20 September 2012 - 10:22pm IST
by Anand Vasu in Hambantota
Zimbabwe became the first team to be knocked out of the ICC World Twenty20 2012
after it put in a second successive disappointing performance. It was the spin
of Ajantha and Jeevan Mendis that sent Zimbabwe hurtling to an 82-run loss in
the tournament opener, and on Thursday (September 19), Zimbabwe were bounced
out by South Africa’s quick bowlers. While South Africa was always the
favourite in this game, a comprehensive 10-wicket win didn’t seem on the cards.
Zimbabwe’s campaign ended before nearly half the teams in the
competition – England, Pakistan, New Zealand, Bangladesh and West Indies –
played their first match.
AB de Villiers won the toss and wasted no time in sticking Zimbabwe in
on a pitch that offered some response to fast bowlers who were willing to bend
their backs. The pace of Dale Steyn, who also moved the ball away from the
right-handers considerably and late, set the stage, with his first three overs
costing just three runs.
While Steyn rattled the cages, forcing some wildly optimistic swishing,
it was Morne Morkel who cashed in, encouraging the drive from Vusi Sibanda and
moving the ball just enough to beat bat and peg back the off-stump. Brendan
Taylor played a poor shot to be caught behind and when Hamilton Masakadza chipped
to mid-on, Zimbabwe was 16 for three.
What was already a poor start rapidly degenerated into a collapse as
Jacques Kallis threatened Ajantha Mendis’s two-day-old record figures of
4-2-8-6. Kallis, who got the ball to rear from a length, ripped through the
middle-order, and had figures of 3-1-5-4 at one stage, including a
double-wicket maiden. A few smeared runs that came off strokes of desperation
meant that Kallis ended with four for 15.
Zimbabwe narrowly avoided being bowled out, and ended on a sub-par 93
for eight in its 20 overs. Craig Ervine, the left-hand middle-order batsman,
was the only Zimbabwean to put up meaningful resistance, with 37. Only one
other batsman managed double figures and the match as a contest was all but
finished in the first half itself.
Richard Levi, opening with Hashim Amla, was under no pressure to try and
force the pace, and focussed on bedding down and knocking off the runs with a
minimum of fuss. If it was poor when it batted, Zimbabwe was uninspired in
defence of its modest score, and an air of inevitability overtook proceedings
as Amla and Levi brought up the 50 of the opening partnership in only 5.3
In the end it took just 12.4 overs for Levi (50) and Amla (31) to stay
unbeaten and knock off the 94 needed for victory.
The game did not give South Africa the workout it was hoping for, and it
will now go into Saturday’s match against Sri Lanka without really being
tested. On the day, South Africa chose to leave out Faf du Plessis, Justin
Ontong, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell. Whether this combination is a
pointer to the kind of mix South Africa deploys remains to be seen.