Zimbabwe saved the best for last when they emphatically beat South Africa in what turned out to be a one sided match in the seventh and final match of the Pran RFL T20 triangular series at Harare sports club on Sunday.
South Africa won the toss and elected to bat and, their innings could not have got off to a worse start when the big hitting Richard Levi was out to the very first ball bowled by Kyle Jarvis when Levi was out LBW, and when Hashim Amla’s miss timed pull shot was well taken by Malcolm Waller, the Proteas were in trouble with the total on six for the loss of their opening batsmen.
The demise of Amla then saw South Africa suffer a fate similar to Zimbabwe in their previous encounter as the Proteas slumped to 67 for five before Faf du Plessis and Albie Morkel restored some sort of sanity as the two big hitters went about repairing the innings with a partnership of 60 before du Plessis was dismissed by Kyle Jarvis for a magnificently played 66 off 57 balls with four fours and one huge six.
Albie Morkel finished the innings off with a few lusty blows as South Africa recovered nicely to close their innings on 146 for six from their 20 overs with Morkel unbeaten on 34 off 23 balls.
All the bowlers with the exception of Richard Muzhange were impressive with Kyle Jarvis being the pick with figures of 2-22 in four overs while Chris Mpofu, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer all chipped in with a wicket. Richard Muzhange however suffered at the hands of Morkel and du Plessis as he was plundered for 46 in his four overs.
After the spirited recovery by du Plessis and Morkel, the Proteas had every right to feel that they were in with a real chance of defending their total but from the onset, Zimbabwe were in total control.
Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza got the hosts off to a flying start before Sibanda fell to a brilliant catch at point by Farhaan Behardien for 23. Masakadza was then joined by Brendan Taylor who through out the tournament got starts with out converting but the captain saved his best innings for the match that really counted as he and Masakadza took the bowling by the scruf of the neck and their unbroken partnership of 118 for the second wicket insured a historic victory against a quality side.
Both batsmen took a liking to Robin Peterson, plundering 21 runs off his first over with Taylor hitting two fours and a six off his first three balls, before taking a single to allow Masakadza to smash the last ball of Peterson’s first over for six.
As the PA system informed the crowd that Zimbabwe needed just 20 runs to win, the record breaking attendance broke out in to a emotional rendition of the countries national Anthem. Simudzai mureza ye Zimbabwe.
Taylor ended unbeaten on 59 off 41 balls which included six fours and two sixes, while Hamilton Masakadza’s remarkable form in the triangular series continued as he passed 50 for the fourth time in five innings as he finished with an unbeaten 58 off 51 balls with six fours and two sixes. Masakadza ended with a total of 267 runs in the five times he batted for his country and it came as no surprise that he was announced the man of the series.
This may very well have been an unofficial event, but Zimbabwe would have gained a huge amount of confidence and self belief after beating their neighbours on two occasions.