Tatenda Taibu’s 107 not out spearheaded a brave Zimbabwean chase that fell just 28 runs short of the Proteas’ 323.
Even though the victory secures a 3-0 series win over the men in red, the problems in the Proteas bowling department are well and truly apparent with strike bowler Makhaya Ntini producing expensive figures of 1-49 in seven overs. They lacked penetration, and when Brendon Taylor and Taibu were going well, they struggled to restrict the scoring.
Set an intimidating 324 to win, the Zimbabwean batsmen fought from the outset to match the run rate of the South Africans. Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza got the run chase off to a solid start, but it was the third-wicket partnership of 109 between Taylor and Taibu that really laid the foundation for an assault on the Proteas’ score.
Taibu was in fine form and made the most of some loose bowling by the visitors. He also showed good composure after Taylor got out, as many of the subsequent batsmen failed to offer substantial support.
Zimbabwe will lament their own wayward bowling earlier in the day which ultimately allowed South Africa to reach such a formidable total. They had a good last few overs that kept the score down when AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel were threatening to take it past 350, but the lack of consistency is what cost them this game.
The Proteas duo weighed in with a 186-run partnership, dispatching the hapless Zimbabwe bowlers to all corners of the ground. South Africa hit 24 fours and 13 sixes in all, with Morkel (97) and De Villiers (107) the chief aggressors.
Morkel looked set to record his maiden ODI century but chased a wide delivery from Hamilton Masakadza. Taibu held onto the catch behind the stumps and the opportunity evaporated.
De Villiers got to his hundred and then got out, which was the start of a collapse in the last 10 overs. South Africa lost six wickets after Morkel departed in the 41st over which curbed their momentum significantly.
Gary Brent benefited from some ordinary strokeplay in this period, picking up three wickets in his second spell. Morne Morkel struck several lofty blows that ensured South Africa reached a big score, but it could have been better had they kept their composure at the death.
South Africa – 323-9 [50 overs]
De Villiers 107, Morkel 97, Brent 3-47, Masakadza 2-55.
Zimbabwe – 295-7 [50 overs]
Taibu 107*, Masakadza 48, Taylor 43, Sibanda 41.
For the full scorecard click here.