Zim struggle under lights

HARARE – Zimbabwean batsmen have found the going tough to connect bat with ball under floodlights during their current tour of neighbouring South Africa.

Heath Streak’s men lack of pink ball cricket was exposed in the warm-up match against South Africa Invitational XI which they lost yesterday in Paarl.

The tourist were using warm-up match to prepare for the inaugural four-day Test against the Proteas which starts on Boxing Day at St Georges’ Park in Port Elizabeth.

However, Streak should be worried by the fact that his batsmen, who have very limited experience playing under floodlights, are struggling to get any runs on the board.

In the first innings against the South Africa invitational XI, top order batsman Hamilton Masakadza top scored for Zimbabwe with 79 at Boland Park.

Zimbabwe were bowled all out for 179 as no batsman came close to complementing Masakadza’s knock.

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.

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

Zimbabwe started the second innings trailing by 91 runs after Test batsman Temba Bavuma hit a fluent 70 off 77 balls in the South Africa Invitation XI’s first innings.

However, Zimbabwe struggled to 120 for seven at the close of play on day two, giving them a slender overall lead of 29 runs.

It was hardly the dress rehearsal the Streak’s team wanted ahead of Boxing Day Test.

There were 40 overs remaining before the close, all to be bowled under floodlights, when the Zimbabwe started their second innings against a team consisting mainly of players from South Africa’s second tier of first-class cricket.

First innings top-scorer Masakadza was bowled for a duck by Williams off the second ball of the innings.

Solomon Mire and Craig Ervine put on 50 for the second wicket but batsmen fell at regular intervals after that pair were separated.

Test bowler Dale Steyn, who tested his fitness in the first innings, did not bowl in the second. Williams led the attack and took three for 27.

Meanwhile, Steyn is feeling confident that he is back to full fitness and hopes to keep on playing Test cricket beyond his 33-years of age.

The speed merchant spent the better part of this year recovering from another shoulder injury only to return to first-class against Zimbabwe.

“I think I like to play cricket. I want to play cricket as long as I can," Steyn told the Criccbuzz website yesterday.

“Age isn't really a factor. I think we all have that one friend in life that runs the Comrades (Ultra Marathon) up until he is 60.

“I would like to think I am one of those guys. I don't really worry about fitness - I am still fitter than the youngest guys in the side.

“It was just about getting through this year and trying to decide whether I still wanted to do it. I think most people at 34 start thinking about other things in life like retirement and family and those types of things.

“I am in a fortunate position that I don't really need to think about that much right now. I play cricket. That's what I do. I'll play until I'm not good enough or someone's better than me, then he can replace me.”

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