Zim start SA tour

The tourists had their tour opener against the South African Pro20 champions, Gestetner Diamond Eagles, at the De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Wednesday. The Eagles beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets.

Zimbabwe captain Stuart Matsikenyeri won the toss and chose to bat, in his side’s debut outing in the 20-overs format of the game.

Openers Terrence Duffin and Vusumuzi Sibanda went about their business in brisk fashion, but what seemed like a promising partnership was cut short when Sibanda was dismissed for 10, caught by Nicky Boje off Roger Telemachus. Brendan Taylor then joined Duffin and the two crafted a 50-run partnership before Duffin was bowled by Victor Mpitsang, leaving Zimbabwe 79 for two.

Thereafter, things fell apart for the tourists as they lost wickets at regular intervals. For the Eagles, Victor Mpitsang helped himself to three wickets for 19 runs in three overs, to win the Master-Blaster bowling award.

Thandi Tshabalala finished three for 15 in four overs and the veteran Roger Telemachus three for 16 in 2,5 overs. Eagles captain Nicky Boje got one as Zimbabwe were dismissed for 118 runs in 18,5 overs.

David Jacobs led the Eagles’ chase with an unbeaten 53 runs.

Loots Bosman, the only batsman to have scored a century in Standard Bank Pro20 cricket, added 27, before he was caught by Anthony Ireland from the bowling of Timycen Maruma. Jacques Rudolph was 22 not out when the hosts reached the victory target in 11,4 overs.

“It was the first time the team has played a 20-20 match so there is still a lot to learn,” said Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran afterwards.

He pointed out that when Zimbabwe won the toss, they decided to bat first hoping to put up 160 to 170 runs. He said the platform for that was built by the openers, but the middle order then collapsed.

However, Curran was hopeful that his charges would come into their own in the three MTN ODI matches against South Africa. The first was scheduled for the Goodyear Park in Bloemfontein on Friday; the second at the Buffalo Park in East London today; and the third and final match at Sedgars Park in Potchefstroom on Wednesday.

The Zimbabwe squad comprises tour captain Prosper Utseya, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Terrence Duffin, Anthony Ireland, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tafadzwa Mufambisi, Tawanda Mupariwa, Edward Rainsford, Piet Rinke, Vusumuzi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor.

On the technical bench, coach Kevin Curran has Walter Chawaguta as his assistant, Givemore Makoni (team manager), Dean Woodford as fitness trainer and Amato Machikicho (physiotherapist).

Welcoming their guests at Johannesburg International Airport on Monday morning, Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive officer Gerald Majola said the tour should be looked at against the background of their commitment to helping the talented but inexperienced Zimbabwe team get exposure.

“We are very serious about the future of Zimbabwe cricket. “We have taken a conscious decision to help Zimbabwe whenever we can, and the three ODIs are to help their preparations for the qualifying round of the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy,” said Majola.

However, the CSA boss was quick to point out that the MTN series was also vital for South Africa’s build-up to the global tournament in India next month, more so because the Proteas have not got as much play as they expected after cutting short their recent tour of Sri Lanka on security grounds.

In reply, Zimbabwe coach Curran said the opportunity to play against one of the top ODI sides in the world was a welcome learning curve for his team. Captain Utseya said while the South Africans were an experienced lot, his young side has prepared hard for the series and was looking forward to the challenge.

Zimbabwe return home next Thursday.

September 2006
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