South Africa A – 273-7 in 50 overs (Andile Phehlukwayo 87, Heinrich Klaasen 58, Theunis de Bruyn 32; Donald Tiripano 4/57, Tendai Chatara 2/39, Sikandar Raza 1/47)
Zimbabwe XI – 266-6 in 48.5 overs (Sikandar Raza 59, Prince Masvaure 49, Milton Shumba 45*; Reeza Hendricks 2/24, Lizaad Williams 2/29, Gerald Coetzee 1/43)
Zimbabwe XI won by five runs (Duckworth-Lewis method)
Zimbabwe XI enjoyed an impressive start to the three-match one-day series against South Africa A as they recorded a five-run victory in the first encounter at Harare Sports Club on Monday.
With seven balls to go and the hosts needing eight runs to win, bad light forced the umpires to halt play and a Duckworth-Lewis calculation had to be applied just when the match was building up to a thrilling climax.
Sikandar Raza, as captain of the Zimbabwe XI, put the tourists in to bat on winning the toss on a warm sunny morning.
Tony de Zorzi and Theunis de Bruyn gave their team a good start by putting on 58 for the first wicket before, in the 15th over, Donald Tiripano had de Bruyn caught at the wicket for 32.
He then removed de Zorzi for 28 and Reeza Hendricks, also caught by Richmond Mutumbami at the wicket, for 22.
When Raza himself bowled out Khaya Zondo for seven, the South Africans were 94 for four in the 24th over and the Zimbabweans could claim an advantage.
However, having removed the specialist batters, the home side fell foul of the all-rounders.
Heinrich Klaassen, the visiting team’s captain and wicket-keeper, was joined by Andile Phehlukwayo, a pace bowler who bats, and the two turned the innings around with a dominant partnership of 136 in less than 22 overs.
Klaassen, the more aggressive of the two during this partnership, was then caught off Tendai Chatara, coming back for his final spell, for 58, scored off 51 balls with a six and four fours.
Phehlukwayo went on to score 87 with increasing aggression before, at the end of the penultimate over, he became Tiripano’s fourth victim, and the third to be caught at the wicket, having hit four sixes and five fours.
The later batters scored a few odd runs to take the total after 50 overs to a challenging 273 for seven wickets.
Tiripano took four very good wickets, although he conceded 57 runs in his eight overs.
Chatara was the most economical, with two wickets for 39 in his 10 overs.
The Zimbabwe A innings had a most unfortunate beginning for the team.
Pace bowler Lizaad Williams began with two leg-side wides to Takudzwanashe Kaitano, which may have distracted the batter, as his third delivery was a good one that moved in a little and bowled him out – two for one wicket after the first legitimate delivery.
Then came a sound stabilising partnership between Kevin Kasuza and Prince Masvaure, who put on 55 for the third wicket in 15 overs.
When Bjorn Fortuin bowled out Kasuza for 27, this brought in Wessly Madhevere, who looked in excellent form from the start.
Using his feet well, he played his strokes beautifully to give hopes he might lead his team to victory, but when he had caught up with Masvaure on 34 he top-edged a hook off Gerald Coetzee and the skyer to fine leg was very well taken by Klaasen running back, leaving the scoreboard reading 106 for three in the 25th over.
Raza, in next, also looked to be in excellent form from the outset, but Masvaure, on 49 and pushing for his fifty, sliced a catch to backward point off Williams to make the score 142 for four off 31 overs.
Milton Shumba was less fluent at the start of his innings, but the 200 came up exactly after 40 overs, with Raza having reached 50 off 44 balls.
On 59, though, Raza took a great heave at a ball from Hendricks and was bowled – 213 for five in the 42nd over.
Mutumbami scored only eight, paying the penalty for attempting a reverse sweep against Hendricks to be out lbw at 223 for six in the 44th over.
Shumba was now playing more fluently, and with Tiripano in the required run rate was kept down to about seven an over – 27 were needed of the last four overs, 21 off the last three and 16 off the last two.
Unfortunately, with seven balls to be bowled and eight runs needed, Shumba on 45 off 50 balls and Tiripano 24 off 19, the umpires halted play due to failing light.
Williams was the most effective of the South African bowlers, taking two wickets for only 29 runs in his nine overs.