Harare: Zimbabwe crushed favourites South Africa by nine wickets Sunday as the non-cap Twenty20 tri-nations tournament at Harare Sports Club reached a stunning climax. It was the second time in five days that the host nation put their powerful neighbours to the sword in a warm-up event for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka this September and October. Zimbabwe won by 29 runs last Wednesday in the pool phase of a tournament that included Bangladesh, but lost by six wickets to South Africa Saturday and entered the final as outsiders. South Africa made 146 for 6 off 20 overs with Faf du Plessis (66) top scoring and Zimbabwe reached 150 for 1 with 17 balls to spare thanks to a superb unbeaten partnership between captain Brendan Taylor (59) and Hamilton Masakadza (58).
Many South African cricket writers had argued against the Proteas going to Harare, saying Zimbabwe and Bangladesh were too weak to provide meaningful opposition. "I am over the moon after beating a quality team and so proud of the boys," said No 3 batsman-cum-wicketkeeper Taylor. "We don't get days like these very often so we are going to enjoy ourselves tonight."
"The squad has been working really hard over the past three months and we accept that we must put in more hard yards than some other teams. After losing on Saturday, I just told the boys to remain calm."
Chasing 147 to win, the hosts won by nine wickets with 17 balls to go, thanks to fifties from Taylor and Masakadza.
It was a dismal tournament for South Africa opener and captain Hashim Amla as an 88 not out was followed by a string of low scores and he made just three runs in the final after big hitter Richard Levi went for a duck off his first ball. "I thought 146 was a defendable total so hats off to Zimbabwe," said Amla.
"While Zimbabwe were the better team on the day, we have learnt a lot regarding who should go to Sri Lanka and who should not."
Taylor was voted Man of the Match and the four half-centuries of No.1 batsman Masakadza during the eight-day tournament earned him the Man-of-the-Series award.