South Africa left a crowd of well over 8,000 fans gusted in awe after Rusty Theron sealed the one run victory after dismissing Foster Mutizwa on the final ball.
South Africa ‘A’ won the toss and decided to bat first. Once again the Zimbabwean opening bowlers restricted the batting side to a low run rate, almost making ill of Jacques Rudolph’s decision to bat first.
The remainder of the South African had the visitors submitting to the bowlers, three wickets fell for 52 runs by the 16th over; Prosper Utseya and Meth were at the forefront of the onslaught. Meth removed Loots Bosman (2) two balls after he had been dropped at mid on. A smart bowling change of introducing Utseya in the 12th removed Rilee Roussouw (5 and Justin Ontong (5) soon followed after a leading edge went back to Utseya.
Captain Jacques Rudolf was the star of an almost ordinary batting side as he patiently steadied the innings with a patient knock with his wicket-keeper Heino Kuhn. Rudolf finished off with 98 runs from 125 deliveries and only featured two boundaries from the knock.
The pair built a 116 run partnership for the fourth wicket from 130 deliveries. Zimbabwe tightened the bowling only allowing for the odd boundary past the fielders. Rudolf was dropped at 31 but recovered and battled his way to his 50 which came off 71 deliveries with only one boundary. Utseya broke the partnership as Kuhn attempted to clear Craig Ervine at long off in the 36th over. South Africa was now in a more secure position at 168 for four.
Rudolph was unable to find another partnership with anyone in the middle order but South Africa managed to reach 238 runs for the loss of eight wickets. Utseya and Meth remained the pillar of Zimbabwe’s bowling taking seven wickets between them, Utseya taking four for 49 in ten overs while Meth took three for 36 in ten overs.
Zimbabwe was previously struggled with a fragile top order but the last two matches have seen a turn of events and now the top order now has a knack for building decent partnerships. Vusi Sibanda (11) and Brendan Taylor made on opening stand of 44 runs broken in the 12th over. Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza making 53 for the second wicket then Regis Chakabva (47) and Taylor made 65 for the third wicket.— Zim Cricket
Much of the match’s drama unfolded when Zimbabwe took the third power play in the 43rd over at 162 for three needing 77 to win from 48 balls. Former captain Elton Chigumbura hit two exquisite fours from the last two balls of the first over of the power play off Vernom Philander. He continued the onslaught in the next over by Rory Kleinveldt’s, smashing him over the top for four. Chigumbura raced to 20 0ff just 12 deliveries in a knock that brought back memories of what he is capable of doing when he is at his best.
Craig Ervine (12) clouted a vital six in deep for his brisk 11 ball knock. The final episode to Zimbabwe’s defeat came in the final over when ten runs were required in the final over with prosper Utseya and Foster Mutizwa in the middle and Rusty Theron bowling form the City End. Mutizwa took a single from the first ball, Utseya swung and missed the next ball and made up with a single on the third. The fourth ball gave Zimbabwe a glimpse of hope as Mutizwa cleared mid on with a pull shot.
Theron placed the next ball in the block hall but Mutizwa managed to run two off it. Zimbabwe needed a single to tie the match and two to win. Theron bowled the same delivery this time a fraction more outside off stump and Mutizwa opened his stumps, strut forward swinging and missing giving Kuhn the easiest of stumpings.
Zimbabwe XI will play their next match against Australia ‘A’ today.