Proteas start World T20 with a bang
JACQUES Kallis delivered a career-best performance with the ball as South Africa announced themselves at the ICC World Twenty20 with a crushing 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket stadium last night.
The match was about as brief as a one-sided duel at high noon between Billy the Kid and Little Orphan Annie.
South Africa were supreme with the ball, limiting Zimbabwe to a humiliating 93/8, with half of the wickets falling to Kallis's seamers. It was Zimbabwe's second-lowest total in T20 internationals.
The Proteas then replied with a batting blitz from openers Hashim Amla (32) and Richard Levi (50) to finish the game off with 44 balls to spare. Levi will be relieved to have spent some time at the crease after battling of late.
The victory also booked the South Africans a place in the Super Eights stage along with Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe will be on a plane back to Harare this weekend.
The Proteas came into the game saying they were not interested in matching Sri Lanka's mauling of their African neighbours earlier this week. But they made a statement of their own last night, an equally emphatic one at that. Sterner tests await South Africa, but for an opening game, one could not have hoped for a better performance.
Captain AB de Villiers won the toss and sent Zimbabwe in to bat on a surface that had the look of being a green mamba.
Zimbabwe were determined to make some noise of their own after succumbing meekly to the hosts, but South Africa never gave them a fighting chance.
Dale Steyn took the new ball along with Morne Morkel and the two operated with the kind of pace and venom that would have brought a malicious grin to the face of bowling coach Allan Donald.
With swing as freely available as bounce, Steyn and Morkel proceeded to bomb the Zimbabweans into submission.
As the startled opposition fended and sparred at Steyn, it was Morkel who did the initial damage. He first beat Vusi Sibanda for pace, bowling him through the gate. He then forced Brendan Taylor into backing away and playing a rash shot.
His brother Albie, who passed a late fitness test before the start, got into the act and sent Hamilton Masakadza packing, to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 16/3 in the fifth over.
Kallis then stepped forward and cleaned up the middle order, returning the remarkable figures of 4/15 in four overs, including the wicket of Zimbabwe's top-scorer Craig Ervine (37).
That was the 36-year-old's best performance with the ball in this format of the game, eclipsing his previous mark of 2/20 against England in Nottingham in 2009. Steyn finished with 1/9, while Morne Morkel took 2/16.
South Africa play their final group match against the hosts Sri Lanka at the same venue tomorrow and while the result will be of little consequence, it will still be a minor battle within the war.