HARARE: Dane Piedt produced the best performance by a debutant South African spinner as the Proteas thumped Zimbabwe by nine wickets to retain their number one status following the one-off contest at the Harare Sports Club on Tuesday. After bowling Zimbabwe out for 181 in the second innings, the visitors knocked off their target of 41 for the loss of opener Dean Elgar, who was bowled by Tendai Chatara for 21. The 24-year-old Piedt finished with match figures of eight for 152 on a helpful wicket having been drafted into the side for leg-spinner Imran Tahir, beating the previous best debut figures of 7-189 by Ian Smith against England in 1947.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn finished with 8-84 in the match to move level with Ian Botham on 383 careers Test scalps, 13th on the list of most wicket takers. A South African victory was always likely at the start of the day, but Zimbabwe can take heart from the fight they showed in delaying the Proteas’ celebrations until the final hour of day four. Resuming on 28-1, they lost only nightwatchman Donald Tiripano (five) before lunch after he had a wild slog at a Piedt delivery and was bowled.
It was the middle session that set up the win for the visitors though as they ripped through the heart of the Zimbabwe batting line-up. Mark Vermeulen, who scored 21, was the first to go as he was trapped plumb leg before wicket by Steyn. From there it was a procession as Piedt had Vusi Sibanda caught and bowled for 45, before he snagged the big wicket of home captain Brendan Taylor, caught at short leg by Elgar for 5. Morne Morkel (3-15) entered into the attack and bowled Regis Chakabva for 15 after the batsman offered no stroke, while Sean Williams (3) was brilliantly caught at point by JP Duminy off the lanky paceman.
Then followed an entertaining 54-run eighth wicket stand between Richmond Mutumbami (43) and John Nyumbu (13) that briefly threatened to force the game into day five. It was ended when Steyn had Mutumbami caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and just four balls later Nyumbu was caught and bowled by Piedt. The innings was ended when Steyn collected his third wicket, sending the off-stump of Tinashe Panyangara (two) out the ground. The teams will now contest a three-match one-day series in Bulawayo starting on Sunday, before Australia arrive for a triangular tournament that gets underway on Aug. 25.
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