South Africa coasted to victory against Zimbabwe by nine wickets on Day four of the one-off Test in Harare on Tuesday.
Dane Piedt, the right-arm off-spinner, scalped four wickets as the Proteas chased down 41 runs in their second innings after Zimbabwe had lost eight wickets for 83 runs after lunch. In this match, the Proteas, ranked number one in the ICC Test rankings, were out and out favourites against minnows Zimbabwe and they showed why.
"We've had to play smart cricket to get the job done. Winning in four days is as big a victory as you get, especially on this type of surface," said South Africa skipper Hashim Amla, according to ESPNCricinfo.
Zimbabwe began day four on 28 for one, trailing South Africa by 113 runs. The Proteas had earlier ground out 397 runs in reply to Zimbabwe's first innings of 256.
Trailing by 113, with opener Vusi Sibanda and night-watchman Donald Tiripano at the crease, the Zimbabwe batsmen looked to play with caution and hold their own against the South Africa pace attack. This was easier said than done.
Fast bowler Vernon Philander beat Sibanda in the first over itself. Shortly afterward speedster Dale Steyn nearly trapped Sibanda leg-before but the ball appeared to be outside the off-stump. Sibanda, after this shout, survived the next deliveries without any more alarms. He appeared to grow in confidence as he hit Philander for two fours in the next over.
As the first hour came to an end both Sibanda and Tiripano had managed to survive against Steyn and Philander. Spin, in the form of Piedt, was soon introduced. He immediately had an impact as with his first delivery of his second over he ended Tiripano's resistance by bowling him. The night-watchman had lost patience and tried to slog sweep Piedt. In came Mark Vermeluen, and both he and Sibanda took Zimbabwe to lunch without further blows.
It was after lunch that Zimbabwe's collapse began. Steyn began proceedings by trapping Vermeluen leg-before with a sharp inswinger. Piedt then got into the act by enticing Sibanda to hit back a return catch. An over later, he had bagged the wicket of Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor. The skipper was out caught at short-leg.
Zimbabwe at this point were still 28 runs behind and had five wickets left. Morne Morkel soon came into the act as he took two more wickets. The hosts still had seventeen more runs to make to avoid innings defeat.
Wicketkeeper and right-hander Richmond Mutubami saw to it that South Africa would bat again as he made 43 and was involved in a 54- run partnership with off spinner and debutant John Nyumbu. Piedt broke the stand as he had Nyumbu caught and bowled. Then Steyn wrapped up the innings by bowling tail-ender Tinashe Panyangara. That left South Africa with 41 runs to make.
As expected, the Proteas scored the 41 runs, without too much fuss. Zimbabwe did have one success in the end as right-arm medium pacer Tendai Chatara bowled left-handed opener Dean Elgar for 21. In the end though, Zimbabwe needed a great deal more than 41 to defend against the number one side.