Levi and pacemen see SA to victory
An unbeaten half-century from Richard Levi saw South Africa to a 10-wicket victory, set up by a top-class bowling performance, over Zimbabwe in their ICC World T20 match at Hambantota on Thursday.
Full Scorecard: South Africa v Zimbabwe
Having been sent in to bat, Zimbabwe's hopes of staying in the tournament were quickly soured by a brilliant display by the South African pacemen, led by Jacques Kallis, as they were restricted to a paltry 93 for eight.
South Africa's prior two encounters, both unofficial, with Zimbabwe had ended in embarrassing defeats, but the difference this time was the tremendous strikepower that was available with Kallis, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn all in action.
It was pros against amateurs as Craig Ervine (37 off 40) was the only batsman to score more than 15.
Kallis returned with new career-best figures of 4-15, tearing through the middle-order with 3-3 in his first two overs.
It was a good toss to win for South Africa as their fast bowlers revelled in the moist conditions after a heavy afternoon shower, and Morne Morkel (4-0-16-2) immediately justified the decision to send Zimbabwe in as he removed Vusi Sibanda (0) and Brendan Taylor (4) in his first two overs.
Sibanda was bowled by a marvellous delivery that jagged back through the gate to hit the top of off stump, while both Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza, who was caught off Albie Morkel for six, erred in trying to manufacture strokes that the conditions did not allow.
Ervine produced a couple of beautiful strokes through the off side and Zimbabwe were dreaming of a comeback as he and Stuart Matsikenyeri added 35 for the fourth wicket.
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But then Kallis, the man with the golden touch, seized control of the innings.
He didn't have much to do with his first wicket, Matsikenyeri leaving his crease and slapping the ball straight to cover to be caught for 11, but Kallis's next delivery was far too quick and straight for Elton Chigumbura, who stayed back and played all around it to be trapped lbw for a golden duck.
Graeme Cremer averted the hat-trick, but Kallis had his career-best figures three overs later when he surprised Cremer (6) with a bouncer that was gloved through to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.
Prosper Utseya (5) was soon sent on his way by a superb diving catch down the leg side by De Villiers off Steyn, South Africa's bowling spearhead not disappointing with outstanding figures of 1-9 in his four overs.
Ervine, the one Zimbabwean to emerge with some credit, was the last batsman to fall, caught behind as he failed to control a well-directed lifter from Kallis.
South Africa's chase was a mere formality, even though Hashim Amla was dropped on 29 and Levi erred once in top-edging a hook for four off left-arm paceman Brian Vitori.
Most importantly, Levi put to bed the doubts over his place at the top of the order as he cruised to 50 not out off 43 balls, with six fours.
While Zimbabwe's limited bowling was clearly right up his street, Levi impressed by not playing across the line so much and half his boundaries were straight through the covers.
Amla finished on 32 not out off 33 balls, with three fours, as Zimbabwe were condemned to a flight back to Johannesburg and then home after just three days of the tournament.
SOUTH AFRICA - Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.
ZIMBABWE - Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Ray Price, Kyle Jarvis, Brian Vitori.