South Africa cruised to a comfortable 93-run victory over regional rivals and hosts Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in the first one-day international.
Hashim Amla was the star turn as his 122 helped to set a daunting target of 309 for Zimbabwe. Ably assisted by fifties from Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, Amla's South Africa never looked in danger of losing this one-sided affair.
|Q de Kock||c Taylor b Nyumbu||63||68|
|HM Amla||not out||122||132|
|F du Plessis||c Sibanda b Utseya||59||77|
|AB de Villiers||c Williams b Nyumbu||21||17|
|JP Duminy||not out||22||17|
|Total||3 wickets, 50 overs||309|
Zimbabwe's middle-order pairing of Sean Williams and Hamilton Masakadza briefly threatened to challenge the South African dominance before Imran Tahir and Wayne Parnell intervened to set the record straight.
Hashim Amla scores 15th ODI century to propel South Africa to 309 for 3 in the first ODI against Zimbabwe. Report: http://t.co/mI5M9gM8vW— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) August 17, 2014
The South Africans were in no mood to mess around against their neighbours. Skipper Amla was instrumental in establishing a commanding target of 309 for the Zimbabweans. Amla hit an imperious 122 not out, enjoying century stands with both De Kock (63) and Du Plessis (59).
This was the Amla show, and the skipper plundered three sixes and six fours during his knock from 209 balls.
Wisden India had this to tweet about Amla's showing:
|V Sibanda||c de Kock b Parnell||7||12|
|R Mutumbami||c de Kock b McLaren||13||41|
|H Masakadza||c du Plessis b Parnell||61||108|
|BRM Taylor||c Miller b Phangiso||6||11|
|SC Williams||c du Plessis b Imran Tahir||51||80|
|E Chigumbura||c Miller b Phangiso||36||89|
|LM Jongwe||lbw b Imran Tahir||19||43|
|N Madziva||c Duminy b Imran Tahir||2||7|
|SW Masakadza||lbw b Phangiso||6||8|
|P Utseya||b Duminy||5||13|
|J Nyumbu||not out||1||4|
|Total||all out, 49.5 overs||216|
It was John Nyumbu, the spinner from Bulawayo, who eventually tore into South Africa's openers, removing De Kock for 63 off 85 deliveries when he lofted the ball into the grateful hands of Brendan Taylor.
Amla was not to be deterred and settled down with Du Plessis for another big partnership. Du Plessis hit 59 from 77 before he too was dismissed, this time by Prosper Utseya. AB de Villiers hit a quickfire 21 before he was removed by Nyumbu, before JP Duminy knocked 22 alongside Amla to send the South Africans into the pavilion on 309/3 from their 50 overs.
Zimbabwe's response was at best unspectacular.
Vusi Sibanda was the first to go, edging off Wayne Parnell in the fourth over to De Kock. Fellow opener Richmond Mutumbami was gone four overs later when he too edged into the gloves of De Kock. His replacement, Taylor, did not last much longer as he lofted the ball high for David Miller to take a catch in the 12th over.
After an early glut of wickets, Zimbabwe's middle order began to string together some fluency and pose questions of South Africa's bowling attack. Williams and Masakadza (61) were ticking along nicely as their partnership established Zimbabwe in the match before the latter was dismissed by Parnell.
Williams too was removed in the 30th over for 51 by Tahir to leave the Zimbabweans on 143/5. And Tahir was back again to remove his replacement, Luke Jongwe, lbw for 19. Neville Madziva was gone soon after for two courtesy of Tahir.
Elton Chigumbura was not so easily dismissed, however. The all-rounder frustrated the South African bowlers, but in truth his side's run rate was nowhere near enough to challenge South Africa's total, hovering around 4.5 runs per over throughout.
Chigumbura did his best to survive the 50 overs, but he was dismissed by Aaron Phangiso for 36 off the penultimate ball to ensure that South Africa completed their 10-wicket haul.
The dismissal left Zimbabwe on 216 all-out, 93 runs short of the South African target.
South Africa return to Bulawayo for the second one-day international on Tuesday, where Zimbabwe will aim to pose a more challenging examination of their rival's batting line-up.