Masakadza top scores for Zim

HARARE – Opener Hamilton Masakadza provided the spark with the bat when he scored 79 in Zimbabwe’s first innings against South Africa XI Invitational at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday night.

The tourists could only reach 179 all out largely due to Masakadza’s half century in the warm-up match ahead of the historic Boxing Day four-day pink ball Test match to be played at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.

Masakadza provided the foundation of the Zimbabwe innings, scoring more than half the runs in the first 50 overs that saw his side reach 134/5 with 48 overs still left in the evening.

Under the cover of darkness the ball started to swing and seam appreciably, and Zimbabwe lost their last five wickets for 33 runs. This included Lizaad Williams taking the last three wickets in four balls, with Michael Cohen and Von Berg also finishing with three wickets.

Masakadza’s 79 (181 balls, 9x4, 1x6) was far and away the biggest contribution to Zimbabwe’s total of 196 all out. 

Ryan Burl was the next batsman with a score of 26 followed by Chamu Chibhabha’s 18 while P Moor scored 16.

Meanwhile, South Africa speed merchant Dale Steyn eased back into the longest format of the game on the opening day of the three-day tour against Zimbabwe.

He slotted very easily back into a rhythm that belied the fact that he had been inactive for more than a year with the nine overs he sent down in two spells in the first two sessions costing just nine runs.

By his own admission he did not crank the speed gun up, and kept his short ball in the locker for next week’s Test match, concentrating on bowling an immaculate line and length that saw him start his opening spell with 18 consecutive dot balls.

He had a confident appeal for a catch behind the wicket to his fourth delivery to Masakadza turned down, and then had a catch dropped at backward point to his 19th delivery that resulted in the first run that he conceded.

The important thing was that he came through his activity without feeling the slightest pain or niggle, and he created another chance in his second spell with an inside edge by the left-handed Burl that evaded the keeper and went for the boundary that put three figures on the board.

Steyn clearly has a lot more ammunition in his tank, which will no doubt be primed in the build-up to next Tuesday and the start of the pink-ball Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.