Zim go down fighting

HARARE - Zimbabwe would have been comfortable taking it session by session but the urge of taking this Test match into the final day backfired as South Africa seized the initiative to wrap up a nine-wicket victory here yesterday.

The hosts, who resumed their second innings on 28-1 on the fourth day, were bundled out for 181 runs with a lead of 40 runs.

It took the Proteas, who are the number one ranked team in Test rankings, just 10.4 overs to get to the finishing line reaching 44-1.

Opener Dean Elgar (21) was the only wicket to fall after he was clean bowled by seamer Tendai Chatara with two runs to win the match.

Alviro Petersen (17) and Faf Du Plessis (5) took their team to victory safely.

Earlier in the morning, the hosts did well to break for lunch at 80-2 after only losing night-watchman Donald Tiripano for five runs.

Tiripano, had only one run to his name when play resumed, was clean bowled by Dane Piedt.

After his dismal, the returning Mark Vermeulen came to the crease to join opener Vusi Sibanda and the pair did well to steady the ship until the lunch break.

There was however, unforeseen drama that awaited the hosts after lunch as the South African bowlers turned on the screws to swing the match in the Proteas favour.

Zimbabwe lost wickets at regular intervals and in only 14 overs after lunch the hosts were reeling on 124-7 and still trailed by 17 runs.

From there on the writing was on the wall for the hosts as the tail enders could only add a few extras runs before Zimbabwe was dismissed with a lead of 40 runs. 

“We certainly tried to compete, it was challenging not getting enough cricket but no excuses there,” Brendan Taylor, Zimbabwe captain said.

“We were competitive for three days and were blown away after lunch today. The wicket was slow and I don't think we were sharp enough.

“They made it difficult for us which you expect from them. We did fight hard, soft dismissals from us including mine and we'll learn from them.

“A lot of positives for us. Nyumbu has been in first-class for a number of years, full credit to him and he got a lot of support from our pacers and that made my job easier.”

South Africa captain Hashim Amla gave full credit to Zimbabwe for putting up a serious challenge as most people expected the hosts to roll over without a challenge in this one-off Test.

“Credit to Zimbabwe for playing good cricket and I'm proud of my team. You have to encounter different wickets and they made a wicket that probably suited them more than us,” said Amla.

“Special mention to our batters for digging deep and getting that crucial lead. The ball was turning and they played really well.

“Piedt bowled exceptionally well, he stuck to his job and the pitch assisted him too. Hope he continues to grow.

“You don't take any game for cricket for granted. Test cricket is always tough and we are happy to get some wins under our belt. ODIs are a build up to the World Cup and everyone is excited for that.”

Zimbabwe had shown some bravery by electing to bat first after winning the toss on day one and reached 248-9 at stumps.

The second day saw South Africa trailing the hosts by 55 runs as they closed on 201-4 and after a hard day’s work, Zimbabwe finished day three on 28-1 having restricted South Africa to a lead of 141 bowling them out for 397.

The close of business on the third day promised to be an intriguing battle with expectations that the day would spill into the fifth and final day but it was not to be as the visitors lay ambush on day four before the match finished in dramatic fashion with a crashing nine-wicket win for South Africa.

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