Dippenaar Secures Proteas’ Win

South Africa predictably opened their three-match bilateral ODI series with a win, but were given a scare by the minnows. Having restrained Zimbabwe to a barely adequate 201 for seven, the home side crashed to 33 for one in Bloemfontein, before Boeta Dippenaar and Jean-Paul Duminy to close of the match.

Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya won the toss and elected to bat, but found his openers Terry Duffin and Vusi Sibanda suffering as the experience of Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini extracted life out of the pitch. Zimbabwe however made a solid start, and despite Andre Nel removing Duffin in the eighth over for just three, Sibanda and Chama Chibhabha continued the steady progress against some accurate but largely unthreatening South Africa pace bowling.

While just 30 runs came off the first ten overs, the next 16 produced 80. Oft-maligned left-arm spinner Robin Peterson came in for the heaviest flak, with his five overs costing seven runs apiece.

The dismissal of Sibanda for 51, caught at mid-off having mistimed a pull, did little to stem the flow of runs, and it was not until South Africa’s stand-in captain, Jaques Kallis, removed Masakadza for a rapid 33 and Chibhabha for a careful 37 that the tide of the match shifted. Zimbabwe tumbled from 137 for two to 158 for six, and never really recovered, although Elton Chigumbura chipped in with a useful 26 not out to raise the score over 200.

Most pundits would have backed South Africa to chase the meagre target down with considerable ease, but Zimbabwe showed a degree a steel to put the home side under early pressure. Loots Bosman, a Twenty20 specialist, produced a series of ungainly hoicks before he was cleaned up in the third over, attempting an ugly slog to cow-corner. The big two wickets of Herschelle Gibbs and Kallis followed him soon after, and at 33 for three a shock was beginning to be pencilled in on the cards.

But where Zimbabwe floundered, South Africa flourished. Dippenaar and Duminy rebuilt the innings, carefully at first and then more expansively once the change bowlers were introduced. When Duminy departed, having struck seven sumptuous fours in an attractive 60, the Proteas were coasting at 154 for four. Dippenaar finished unbeaten on 85, having received support from Pollock (16*) in clinching a five-wicket victory.

It is a peculiar situation in sport: once a victory is given, the performance far outstrips the convincing margin of victory. Nothing in this short series, against such poor opposition, is likely to enhance South Africa’s World Cup credentials. But there are still gaps to be plugged, engines to be oiled and tactics to be tweaked, and Springboks’ fans will be hoping for a more dismissive showing come the second ODI on Sunday at East London.

Zimbabwe 201-7 (50 overs)
Vusi Sibanda 51

lost to

South Africa 202-5 (50 overs)
Boeta Dippenaar 85*, Jean-Paul Duminy 60

by five wickets

Cricket Web Man of the Match
Boeta Dippenaar

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by George Roberts