South Africa wins Zimbabwe Tri-series
South Africa thumped Australia in the final match by six wickets to win their first ever tri-series involving Australia. It was an easy win for the Proteas as they restricted Australia to a modest total of 217-9 with Dale Steyn scalping 4 wickets and then chased the total easily riding on Du Plessis’s 96. The highlight of the tournament was Du Plessis, as he looked invincible on the slow and turning pitches of Zimbabwe. He scored more than 400 runs, with 3 centuries and narrowingly missing on fourth one in final as he listlessly dismissed bowling attacks with a strike rate of more than a run per ball. He was inarguably adjudged the Player of the Series.
For Australia, it was a tournament to forget as not only they surrendered meekly to the Proteas in the final but also gave Zimbabwe their first ever win against them in 31 years, drawing heavy criticism back home. Their bowling attack looked below par with Johnson relying heavily on his short pitched deliveries which did not prove to be lethal on the slow tracks. Lyon was the standout bowler for them and Finch delivering in the batting department.
Zimbabwe, who were considered mere pushovers in the series, proved their critics wrong by impressive performances against both the heavyweights of the world cricket. They started on a disastrous note, losing to Australians by close to 200 runs. But they got their act together against the Proteas as Prosper Utseya came into his own and bagged 5 wickets including a hat-trick to trigger a dramatic collapse as SA lost 9 wickets for 52 runs to be dismissed for 231, but they were unable to close the game as their batting proved to be no match to the world’s best bowling attack. Zimbabwean spinners again played a perfect game to restrict Aussies to a paltry 209 with captain Clarke scoring 68 before limping out of the ground. The minnows again found themselves in a precarious position at 151-7 but held on this time due to a resolute partnership between Chigumbura and Utseya to throw the stadium into celebrations.
The world’s best fast bowler, Dale Steyn, was the highest wicket taker in the tournament with 10 wickets, saving his best for the finale. Meanwhile, Australians dropped to fourth position in the one-day rankings losing top spot to India who defeated England 3-1 in 5 match series held in England.