HAMILTON Masakadza was deservedly named the Man of the Series after notching his fourth half century of the series to guide Zimbabwe to a memorable nine-wicket victory over pre-tournament favourites South Africa in the Pran RFL Triangular cricket series final yesterday.
Delirious cricket fans, who were part of the sell-out crowd at Harare Sports Club, could not contain their joy as they invaded the pitch moments after skipper Brendan Taylor had pulled Wayne Parnell for a boundary which saw Zimbabwe finish on 150-1 in 17,1 overs in reply to South Africa’s 146-6.
Masakadza, who finished unbeaten on 58 off 50 balls with six fours and two sixes, was a pillar of strength in Zimbabwe’s historic win as he was remarkable throughout the series, a good sign ahead of the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka in September.
“I am ecstatic, over the moon. All the hard work is paying off. We just kept thinking ‘Hang in there and stay calm’.
“BT (Brendan Taylor) and I knew the longer we stayed together, the closer we would get to the total,” he said .
Masakadza and Taylor, who was named Man of the Match after notching up a half century to finish on 58 off 41 balls, formed the cornerstone of Zimbabwe’s historic win.
The experienced pair shared an unbeaten second-wicket partnership stand of 118 runs which made South Africa’s par score of 146 runs insufficient on a slow wicket.
Taylor said the win was a result of the hard work which was put in by the team during the training camp ahead of the series.
“We are over the moon; this is our first major win against a quality international Test-playing team.
“We are extremely proud with the way we played throughout the series and it is a culmination of the hard work we put in when we were preparing for the series,” he said.
“Today (yesterday) I felt we bowled very well in the first six power play overs which really set the tone, but they managed to come back and post a competitive total, but we batted well in reply.”
While Taylor and Masakadza were impressive in reply to South Africa’s modest total, the foundation was laid by the bowlers after Proteas won the toss and elected to bat before staggering to a modest 146-6 in their allotted 20 overs.
All-rounder Francois du Plessis top-scored for the visitors with 66 runs off 57 balls to ensure his side posted a respectable but reachable target after getting their innings off to a disastrous start.
South Africa lost their first five wickets for just 67 runs inside 12 overs before du Plessis shared a crucial 60-run sixth-wicket stand with Albie Morkel (34).
Zimbabwe got off to a dream start when seamer Kyle Jarvis trapped the dangerous Richard Levi lbw off the match’s first delivery for a first-ball duck.
South Africa skipper Hashim Amla should have regretted his decision to bat first when he was dismissed by Chris Mpofu for the third time in the series in as many matches.
After the good start by the seamers, spinners Prosper Utseya and Malcolm Waller tightened the screws.
Justin Ontong returned a catch to Utseya in the 11th over for just five runs before Waller had Dane Vilas caught behind by Taylor for just two runs, before to du Plessis and Morkel revived the innings with a crucial sixth-wicket partnership stand.
Jarvis was impressive after finishing as the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with two wickets for 22 runs in four overs while Mpofu, Waller and Utseya grabbed a wicket apiece.
While the Zimbabwe bowlers were impressive, it was a different story with the Proteas bowlers with their only wicket coming from Chris Morris while the rest finished wicketless as the hosts reached their target with 17 balls to spare.NewsDay