Chennai: Backed by solid performances from the top order batsmen, title contenders South Africa scored a thumping eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe with 26.3 overs to spare in their first warm-up match of the ICC World Cup at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here tonight.
After bundling out Zimbabwe for 152 in 41.5 overs, South Africa went about the task of chasing in a clinical style hammering the required runs in just 23.3 overs.
Jacques Kallis, who has recovered from rib injury, struck a quick-fire 49 off 39 balls making good use of the platform laid by openers captain Graeme Smith (41, 54 balls, 3x4, 1x6) and Hasim Amla (45, 33 balls, 7x4) as South Africa coasted to a deserving win scoring 153 for 2 with more than half of their allotted overs left.
Walking in at the fall of Amla’s wicket with the total at 69, Kallis in his inimitable style went after the bowlers in aggressive manner and succeeded with his big hits (three six) fast forwarding South African chase for a deserving win.
Kallis’ performance not only put at rest doubts about his fitness since recovering from a rib injury he suffered during India’s recent tour but also boosted the confidence of Smith as Proteas hope to win their elusive World Cup.
The match turned out to be a one-sided affair after Zimabwe frittered away a good opportunity to gain match practice putting up a insipid batting display and failed to last allotted 50 overs.
But for the efforts of Brendan Taylor (40, 57 balls, 3x4) and Sean Williams (35, 60 balls, 2x4), who came in at No.7, sticking to the crease and stitching up valuable partnerships, they could have been in deeper trouble.
As far the Proteas bowling, Smith rotated his bowlers using eight of them to assess their adaptability to the slower wickets in the sub-continent conditions.
Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir, on whom Smith has great expectations in the coming World Cup, impressed with a three-wicket haul like experienced fast bowler Morne Morkel as the two ripped apart the Zimbabwean batting line-up.
Amongst the two sides, South African players were seen better acclimatized to the conditions with the fielders equal to the task taking catches besides stopping boundaries.
AB de Villiers, who was chosen ahead of experienced Mark Boucher to keep wickets in the mega event, proved his abilities in adjusting to the low bounce by taking three catches and not yielding a single bye.
South Africa began the chase on a positive note with both Smith and Amla striking the ball cleanly and not allowing the bowlers to settle down. Amla, who has scored 157 at this ground in a Test match against India in 2008, was in an aggressive mood right from the word go as he accumulated ten runs of the very first over, though he missed a deserving 50.
After punishing spinner Ray Price with two successive boundaries by stepping out, Amla was deceived by a faster one.
Trying to steer Price, Amla edged to wicketkeeper Tatendu Taibu. Amla had put on 69 runs with Smith for the first wicket in 67 balls.
After adding 48 runs for the second wicket, Smith departed being stumped by Taibu off Greg Lamb with the side needing just another 36 runs for a win which Kallis and Villiers knocked off in short time.
Zimbabwe 152 in 41.5 overs (B Taylor 40, S Williams 35, I Tahir 3/35, M Morkel 3/16).
South Africa 153/2 in 23.3 overs (J Kallis 49 no, G Smith 41, H Amla 45).