Sean Williams cracked his highest score against South Africa as Zimbabwe mustered 228 in the third and final one-day international at Boland Park.
Their highest score this series by some distance.
Williams added 73 for the fourth wicket with Brendan Taylor, top-scoring for Zimbabwe with 69, but the wicket-taking abilities of South Africa’s frontline bowlers meant that the visitors struggled to build on that stand and were bowled out three balls short of a full innings.
Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir shared eight wickets, reining in Zimbabwe’s top six, and their efforts meant that Zimbabwe never wrested overall control of their innings.
Once again, the trouble started early for Zimbabwe.
Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire had added 16 – the highest opening stand for either side all series – when Mire played inside a floated legbreak from Tahir to be bowled for another single figure score.
Surprisingly, Tahir had been asked to share the new ball duties with Steyn, and while there was very little turn his variations of wrist and pace kept the Zimbabwe openers guessing, and eventually did for Mire.
When Craig Ervine feathered his third ball, from Steyn, through to Heinrich Klaasen, and Rabada set Masakadza up with a reverse three-card trick that went yorker, yorker, bouncer, Zimbabwe were once again three down in close proximity to the Powerplay.
Another low total loomed, but Williams and Taylor went on the counterattack in style.
Williams was particularly enterprising, while Taylor, too, offered glimpses of his best.
Williams was particularly enterprising, collecting four boundaries off Phehlukwayo on either side of the wicket, including three in one over and one especially handsome cover drive.
Taylor ramped a trademark uppercut and swept spinners often, both in the air and along the turf.
One such shot, a slog sweep to Tahir, took Taylor to a significant milestone as he became the third Zimbabwean to reach 6,000 runs in ODIs, after the Flower brothers.
Together, they took Zimbabwe past the halfway mark in their innings, but just when it seemed that they were out of danger, some sharp keeping from Klaasen broke the stand.
Missing a forward push to Tahir, Taylor briefly lifted his back foot to steady it, but in the split second that it was raised, Klaasen whipped the bails off to have him stumped for 40.
The wicket did nothing to slow Wiliams down, however, and he continued to read the length well to collect a brace of back-foot boundaries off Shamsi, and brought up a 60-ball fifty.
Williams swiped three more boundaries off Shamsi, whizzing past his previous best of 55 against South Africa, but then played too early to be caught and bowled by Rabada for 69.
With Peter Moor and Elton Chigumbura falling cheaply, Zimbabwe were starting to slide at 182 for 7, but Donald Tiripano and the 21-year-old rookie legspinner Brandon Mavuta swung merrily to boost the score beyond 200.
Zimbabwe didn’t have quite enough left in the tank to bat through their innings, Tiripano falling for 29 in the pursuit of quick runs with three balls to go, but they have at least offered South Africa a reasonable target to chase under lights.
The host chased down the target, though not easily, losing six wickets in the process on their way to a whitewash sealing four wicket victory.
Reaaza Hendricks top scored with a solid 66 off 82 balls, while fellow opener Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen chilled in with scores of 42 and 59 respectively.
Zimbabwe’s wickets were shared between all their bowlers with Tiripano taking two while Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Brandon Mavuta and Williams each claimed a scalp.
Action resumes on Tuesday, when the two sides meet in the first of three Twenty20 internationals.
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