Chibhabha, Shumba star as Zimbabwe A defeat South Africa A

South Africa A – 226-9 in 50 overs (Tony de Zorzi 60, Junior Dala 45, Wihan Lubbe 31; Dion Myers 3/18, Victor Nyauchi 2/61, Roy Kaia 1/19). Zimbabwe A – 170-4 in 37 overs (Chamu Chibhabha 85*, Milton Shumba 50*, Tadiwanashe Marumani 11; Lutho Sipamla 2/31, Daryn Dupavillon 1/36, Junior Dala 1/39). Zimbabwe A won by 22 runs (Duckworth-Lewis method)

Chamu Chibhabha and Milton Shumba’s magnificent unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 124 earned Zimbabwe A a fine victory over South Africa A by 22 runs using the Duckworth-Lewis calculation at Harare Sports Club today.

Twice their team was in danger of throwing the match away, firstly by allowing the South African tail to stage a recovery after the top order had failed, and then by the loss of four wickets with some poor batting when they chased their target.

But this wonderful partnership saved the day for the home side, and they were deservedly unbeaten at the end, with Chibhabha on 85 and Shumba 50. South Africa A, opting to bat on winning the toss, opened their innings with Ryan Rickelton and Reeza Hendricks, having decided to rest their aggressive opener Janneman Malan.

Zimbabwe’s opening bowlers were Tendai Chatara and Victor Nyauchi. The runs soon began to flow, especially from Hendricks, who hit both bowlers for two fours each within the space of three overs.

However, Nyauchi produced a fine delivery that came back in to bowl him between bat and pad for 18, with the score 32 for one in the sixth over. Zimbabwe A then struck again as Rickelton tried to hook a short ball from Chatara, but only skyed it to be caught by Brian Chari at square leg for 11, and two wickets were now down for 38 after seven overs.

The promoted Zubayr Hamza drove Nyauchi for four, but then tried to steal a quick single to mid-on, only for Luke Jongwe to race in and throw down the stumps brilliantly to run him out for five. For the first time in the series the South Africa A batting was in some trouble at 38 for three in the eighth over.

Tony de Zorzi soon got after the bowling, but Theunis de Bruyn was very cautious at first. When Dion Myers came on to bowl, he tempted de Bruyn into an injudicious hook, and he top-edged a catch which was taken by Shumba behind the keeper, sending South Africa A to 65 for four in the 14th over.

Myers struck again in his next over, having the new man Dwaine Pretorius caught by Ainsley Ndlovu without scoring, and the South Africans were reeling at 72 for five in the 16th over.

Two runs later Myers had Sinethemba Qeshile caught at the wicket without scoring; 74 for six, and the bowler now had figures of three wickets for 11 runs. Wihan Lubbe joined de Zorzi, and the two set about saving the innings by taking care and concentrating on keeping the score moving with ones and twos.

They brought up the team hundred after 27 overs and gradually began to increase their scoring rate. Just as the partnership seemed well established, Roy Kaia broke it by making the ball straighten to the left-handed Lubbe to trap him lbw for 31 to a delivery he had expected to carry on down the leg side; 126 for seven after 32 overs.

De Zorzi, batting well, then reached his admirable fifty, which came off 63 balls. With the score at 152, however, he tried to force a straight ball from Ndlovu through the off-side field and was bowled for 60, the eighth wicket down in the 40th over.

Junior Dala and Lutho Sipamla, both bowlers with limited batting ability, had to do the best they could to add to the score, and to their credit both reached double figures.

They should not have got further than that, but the Zimbabwe A players now let things slip, after doing all the hard work, and Dala in particular took advantage of that to play his strokes. He hit 45 off 48 balls, a very rare achievement for him, and took the score past 200 before he swung across a straight ball from Nyauchi and was bowled.

The ninth wicket was down at 206 in the 48th over, the partnership having added an unexpected 54. Daryn Dupavillon was the last man in, and even the last wicket proved a problem for the bowlers, as they added another 26 runs, with Sipamla even hitting a short last ball of the innings from Nyauchi for six over midwicket; he had 29 and Dupavillon nine at the end, both not out.

Zimbabwe A did not make a convincing start to their challenge. Brian Chari hit the first ball of the innings, bowled by Sipamla, for four, and edged the third to the keeper, and in the fourth over his opening partner Tadiwanashe Marumani (11) drove a catch off Dupavillon to mid-on, making the score 23 for two wickets.

Myers (4) was the next to go, playing a poor scoop stroke to leg and skying a catch. Kaia was less to blame, as he was genuinely beaten and trapped lbw by a good ball from Sipamla, to make the score 46 for four in the ninth over.

Chibhabha was still there as Shumba joined him with the South Africans now well on top. Two short balls in an over from Dala enabled him to hit two off-side fours safely, and on the whole he now took fewer risks, while Shumba wisely took his time to settle in.

Chibhabha reached 50 off 65 balls and the partnership grew until after 25 overs the score was 112 for four, almost halfway to the target. The century partnership duly came up as 146 was reached and passed, and shortly after Shumba reached a well-deserved fifty off 96 balls – he had played exactly the innings his team needed.

At about 4.40pm there was a sudden unexpected shower of rain that forced the players off the field with the score at 170 for four after 37 overs. With the early winter evening there was no chance of restarting play before dark, so Zimbabwe A were declared winners by the Duckworth-Lewis calculations, still needing 57 runs with six wickets and 13 overs left.

Chibhabha and Shumba were the heroes of the day for Zimbabwe A, for their magnificent match-winning partnership after such a poor start to the innings – they put on 124 for the fifth wicket without being parted.

Chibhabha scored 85 off 103 balls, with nine fours, and Shumba 50 off 98 balls, with three fours, both not out.