HARARE: Zimbabwe shocked powerful neighbours South Africa by 29 runs at Harare Sports Club Wednesday in the third game of a non-cap Twenty20 tri-nation tournament.
The home team posted 176-4 off 20 overs and restricted the visitors to 149 in 19.2 overs before a large, delirious crowd used to seeing Zimbabwe suffer heavy losses against one of the top cricket nations in the world.
Unfortunately, the Harare tournament is unofficial so the result will not enter the record books, but the outcome can only boost Zimbabwean morale ahead of the World Twenty20 clash between the countries on September 20 in Sri Lanka.
Zimbabwe top the table halfway through the mini-league phase having defeated Bangladesh by 11 runs in the opening match last Sunday while hot tournament favourites South Africa had 39 runs to spare over the Tigers Tuesday.
While the Proteas' bowling and fielding left much to be desired against Bangladesh, they flopped in all departments against Zimbabwe with Colin Ingram (48) and opener Richard Levi (40) the only significant run contributors.
Chris Mpofu (3-20) and Graeme Cremer (3-29) were the chief tormentors among the Zimbabwe bowlers while Richard Muzhange (2-28) also inflicted pain as the Proteas lost wickets at regular intervals.
Bowler Wayne Parnell, who was dismal against the Tigers, fared better with 2-33 off three overs on a cool, clear winter afternoon in the Zimbabwe capital, but the attack never wrested control from the Zimbabwe batsmen.
“We leaked 20 runs too many and did not build partnerships,” admitted South Africa skipper Hashim Amla, who failed to match his good form of Tuesday and was out for a meagre 11 runs in the third over.
Top-order batsmen Vusi Sibanda (58), Hamilton Masakadza (55) and captain Brendan Taylor (38) set up a competitive Zimbabwe total on a wicket that has favoured sides batting first as it tends to slow as a game goes on.
While South Africa will point to the absence of rested stars AB de Villiers, Johan Botha, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, injuries have sidelined top Zimbabwe duo Tatenda Taibu and Raymond Price.