Zimbabwe XI were left ruing an early batting collapse as South Africa A put on a solid all-round performance to secure a convincing 36 run victory in the series decider at Harare Sports Club on Friday.
The result meant South Africa A won the three-match one-day series 2-1. Zimbabwe A won the first match while the visitors levelled the series on Wednesday to set up a series decider.
While the opening two matches could have gone either way, it was the South African side which came to the party when it mattered the most. After setting reaching 287 for nine in their allotted 50 overs, SA A were equally dominant with ball in hand as they dismissed the Zimbabwe XI side for 251 runs in 47, 2 overs.
Earlier Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field, with skipper Sikandar Raza hoping his bowlers would put the South Africans on the backfoot in the overcast conditions.
But it was the South Africa A openers who took the game to the hosts. Opening batsman Tony de Zorzi top-scored with 78 off 92 deliveries as South Africa looked certain to go past 300 before they were pegged back by some late wickets.
The 24-year-old hit seven fours in his innings and shared an opening stand of 98 runs with Ryan Rickleton, who scored 47 off 52 balls.
After Rickleton’s dismissal De Zorzi shared another crucial partnership with Khaya Zondi, who scored an aggressive 60 from 69 balls. Andile Phehlukwayo made 29 from 25 balls, while skipper Heinrich Klaasen chipped in with 17 off 15.
Spinner Wellington Masakadza was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers after claiming four wickets for 44 runs in his 10 overs while fast bowler Tanaka Chivanga took three wickets for 43 from eight overs.
The pair’s accurate bowling towards the end ensured South Africa were not able to go beyond 300 although their total of 287 was always going to challenge the hosts’ batting fortitude.
Zimbabwe’s already tough run chase was made harder after losing Takudzwanashe Kaitano in the second over with just one run on the board.
The hosts continued to lose wickets at regular intervals as they were reduced to 78 for four inside 20 overs, with Prince Masvaure (9), Wessley Madhevere (11), skipper Sikandar Raza (0) and Milton Shumba (3) all falling in quick succession.
Opening batsman Kevin Kasuza continued to fight a lone battle from the other end to reach his first half-century of the series.
After Kasuza’s dismissal for 66 off 99 deliveries, Zimbabwe, who were on 146 for six were in danger of being bowled out for a measly total but wicketkeeper-batsman Richmond Mutumbami (39), Donald Tiripano (48) and Masakadza (32) ensured the hosts went down with some dignity.
Phehlukwayo starred with the ball for South Africa A, taking four wickets for 32 runs.
The T20 series between the teams begins on Monday at the same venue.