If there was any sort of edginess in the South African camp leading into the group stages of the ICC World T20, it should all be wiped out now that the Proteas have crushed Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in Thursday’s opening match.
On a pitch which Dale Steyn described as similar to Durban, the South African bowlers had a field day. Morne Morkel was particularly impressive up front, hitting a good line and length, and was assisted by good carry to bag both of Zimbabwe’s opening batsmen early on. Zim was stuck in to bat after South Africa won the toss and the players had their backs against the wall right from the start.
Zimbabwe was in a spot of bother at 16-3 as the South African bowlers tested their opponents constantly, never allowing the run-rate to get away. It was only Craig Irvine who provided some sort of resistance for Zim, with his 37 off 40, as the rest of his teammates flopped like fish. Only one other player managed to pass double figures.
It was a different kettle of (non-flopping) fish for the South Africans. Their bowlers looked fired up and focused, and despite a few wides bowled by the Morkel brothers, the bowling attack was a picture of consistency. Jacques Kallis showed just why he is such a massive cog in the South African wheel, taking four wickets – two of which came off consecutive balls.
The Proteas opted for Richard Levi ahead of Faf du Plessis, and the opener didn’t disappoint this time, hitting 50 off 43 – including six fours – while Hashim Amla stayed anchored at the other end with 32 off 33 to help their side cruise to a very convincing 10-wicket win in just 12.4 overs.
It was exactly what the Proteas needed to open their campaign, and the win will no doubt give them enormous confidence ahead of their match against the hosts – Sri Lanka – on Saturday.
“My job was made easier by the early wickets. I just came on and kept the pressure. There was a little bit of carry in the wicket which surprised us a little bit,” Kallis said after scooping the man of the match award.
Proteas skipper AB de Villiers was equally impressed with his side’s performance.
“I’m very happy with the start. I back our pace bowlers to do well on this kind of deck. Hopefully it’s the same for the next game. Richard and Hash started really well, which was good to see,” De Villiers said.
While the wicket might have been more suited for pace bowling, Sri Lanka is renowned for its spin wizardry and South Africa hasn’t exactly been the best at playing twirly men in the past. De Villiers, though, is full of confidence that his charges have prepared well enough to adjust.
“We are definitely prepared for whatever the conditions may be. We’ve improved a lot facing spin in these conditions, so [we] can’t wait to take on what’s coming our way.”
Summary of results:
Zimbabwe 93-8 (20 overs): Craig Ervine 37 (40), Stuart Matsikenyeri 11 (18), Jacques Kallis 4-1-15-4, Morne Morkel 4-0-16-2
South Africa 94-0 (12.4 overs): Richard Levi 50* (43), Hashim Amla 32* (33), Graeme Cremer 2-0-10-0, Kyle Jarvis 3-0-20-0 DM
Photo: South Africa’s Albie Morkel (C) is congratulated by his teammates after taking the wicket of Zimbabwe’s Hamilton Masakadza during their Twenty20 World Cup cricket match in Hambantota September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
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