A five wicket haul from legspinner Imran Tahir and a half century from Rassie van der Dussen gave South Africa a 34-run victory over Zimbabwe in the first T20 International in East London on Tuesday.
The home side, fresh from a 3-0 drubbing of their Northern neighbours, posted 160 for six in their 20 overs thanks to Van der Dussen, who scored 56 from 44 deliveries, an innings that included five boundaries and a six.
The visitors were struggling at 70 for seven in the 13th over as Tahir ripped through the top order, claiming 5-23 in his four overs but a late surge from Peter Moor and Brandon Mavuta reduced the victory margin somewhat.
South Africa found themselves in early trouble after winning the toss and electing to bat first as debutante Gihahn Cloete (2) and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock (5) found themselves back in the hut with only 11 runs on the board as Kyle Jarvis (4-0-37-3) and Chris Mpofu (4-0-24-3) made early inroads.
Captain Faf du Plessis took the innings by the scruff of the neck to restore some order, smashing five fours and two sixes before being caught off Mavuta’s bowling for 34 from 20 balls. Mavuta, despite only claiming the wicket of the South African skipper, conceded just 19 runs in his four overs.
Van der Dussen and David Miller (39) gave the innings the impetus it need with a stand of 87 from 10.5 overs before Miller was dismissed by Jarvis after facing 34 deliveries while striking one boundary and two maximums.
Christiaan Jonker (8) and Andile Phehlukwayo (4 not out) were unable to push the total to heady hieghts in the final two overs with Jonker only able to loft one six between them.
In reply, the visitors found the going tough as Tahir claimed three wickets in two overs to leave the Zimbabweans on 11-3 with Chamu Chibhabha (3), Hamilton Masakadza (1) and Tarisai Masukanda (0) all back in the hut inside the power play.
Brendan Taylor (19) and Sean Williams (21) restored some order with a stand of 29 for the fourth wicket but Junior Dala’s inclusion into the attack brought an end to the stand as Dala (3-0-25-2) had Taylor edging behind to De Kock.
Tahir, who had claimed the wickets of Masakadza and Masukanda in successive balls, repeated the effort in his return to the attack, clean-bowling Williams and then trapping Elton Chigumbura in front first ball to leave the visitors on 65-6. Phehlukwayo (3.2-0-25-2) then had Tendai Chisoro caught and bowled before the late revival.
Moor, who faced just 21 deliveries, clobbered just one four but smashed five maximums and shared in a brilliant stand of 53 in just 3.1 overs with Mavuta. Mavuta faced only 14 balls for his 28, which included two boundaries and two sixes but Dala had Mvuta caught before Lungi Ngidi (3-0-7-1) clean-bowled Jarvis without scoring.
Phehlukwayo ended the match when he had Moor caught by Jonker going for a swash-buckling heave.
The teams head off to Potchefstroom for the second T20 on Friday before completing the tour on Sunday in Benoni for the third and final T20 encounter.