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Zimbabwe push South Africa
22 Aug 2007
By: Zac Ritchie

South Africa got their tour of Zimbabawe underway with a 5 wicket win in the first ODI but the victory was less than convincing and captain Graeme Smith will be hoping for a better display in the next match, starting Saturday. Gulam Bodi made a successful debut for South Africa as he notched up a half century while Timycen Maruma, the Zimbabwe leg-spinner, was largely disappointing.

Most of the pre game talk was devoted to the return of young Tatenda Taibu, the former exile, who was returning to the national side after abandoning his country earlier in the year, citing safety concerns for his family. His return to the team meant that Zimbabwe were significantly strengthened, having re-gained perhaps their best player and a strong leader also. The team fielded by South Africa was largely experimental, with six lesser known players making the starting 11 in a bid to see how they can perform against international opposition.

Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya won the toss and elected to bat, a decision he must have been regretting when his side slumped to 7/72 thanks to some of the poorest running between the wickets that international cricket has seen. In total there were five run outs in the innings, none of them through exceptional fielding, something that surely must worry the Zimbabwe coach.

There were minor contributions from the top order, with Vusi Sibandi making 15, Brendon Taylor 19 and Tatenda Taibu 22 but the rest of the batting collapsed around them and it wasn?t until Elton Chigumbura came to the crease that Zimbabwe started to look like a capable side. Chigumbura combined with Gary Brent in a 115 run partnership that took Zimbabwe to some respectability before he was eventually ran out for 59, his seventh ODI half century, while Brent notched up his maiden fifty, 59*. Vernon Philander was easily the pick of the bowlers, continuing his good start to international cricket with 2/15.

Zimbabwe were all out for 206, a respectable, if not match winning total, and their bowlers had plenty of work to do if they wanted to make a game of it. Christopher Mpofu did exactly that, striking with just his third ball to remove Loots Bosman in the opening over of South Africa?s run chase. Graeme Smith and debutant Gulam Bodi came together in a 73 run partnership that saw Smith past 50 while Bodi impressed with his calming innings. Chigumbura took the key wicket of Smith, caught and bowled for 50, allowing AB de Villiers to come to the crease and show why he is regarded as one of the best young batsman in the world. He posted 63 before being run out but by then the game was all but secure. It took late innings flourishes from Shaun Pollock 16* from 17 and Vernon Philander 17* from 13, to secure the game. Prosper Utseya continued to be economical at ODI level, taking 2/32 from his ten overs, while Brent was also effective and conceded only 28 runs from 9 overs, leaving him with the man of the match award.

Zimbabwe 206
Elton Chigumbura 59, Gary Brent 59
Vernon Philander 2/15

South Africa 210-5
AB de Villiers 63, Gulam Bodi 51, Graeme Smith 50
Prosper Utseya 2/32

South Africa win by 5 wickets

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