The South African Cricket season finally started with their 1st ODI against Zimbabwe at the Diamond Oval stadium in Kimberley.
South Africa had a new look ODI side, with injuries and players being rested meaning there was a lot of inexperience in the side. They were led, for the first time in ODIs by JP Duminy, who won the toss and elected to bowl first.
This was perhaps seen as a bit of an odd decision. South Africa know that it is their batting that they need to work on, it is the batsmen that need the experience, and it would’ve been nice if they had a full 50 overs to bat and get that experience.
That being said, the bowlers needed a good running too, and they got that. Lungi Ngidi impressed with his incredible bowling to end with figures of 3-19. Kagiso Rabada seemed a bit on the rusty side in his first spell but had a change of ends and then picked up two wickets.
The bowling from the Proteas was exactly what we have come to expect from them, a skilful display of quality international bowling. What was encouraging was the backup bowling of Andile Phehlukwayo (2-22) and Wiaan Mulder (1-19) kept up that skill and pressure.
Zimbabwe were skittled out for 117, their lowest ODI total against South Africa in 34.1 overs.
In a new look opening pair, Dean Elgar and Aiden Makram opened the batting for South Africa in their reply. Unfortunately, things did not start well for the hosts, as Elgar, on his return to the one day side, played a rather rash stroke, that hurried him and he was caught at third man for 2. Reeza Hendricks was the next man in at 3, and didn’t last long. After his debut century against SL, he has had very few notable scores to his name. This was another, out for 5.
Things got worse for the Proteas, as Aiden Markram, who had been given a life at the start of the 10th over, out on a no ball was then dismissed at the end of the over, with a simple catch to mid-off, it was a soft dismissal. He was out for 27.
That brought Heinrich Klaasen and debutant Christiaan Jonker to the crease, who guided South Africa to the lunch interval on 45-3, still needing 73 for victory.
It didn’t take long after lunch for Jonker to go for an ambitious shot and get out for 6, South Africa were now 58-4. Captain Duminy, now realising that his experience was key, came out to bat. In the course of his and Klaasen’s 38 run partnership, Duminy became the 9th South African to read 5000 ODI runs.
Klaasen at the other end was showing great control at the crease and some lovely stroke-making in his innings. He was eventually out after striking two glorious sixes, trying to go for a 3rd maximum in the over, but holed out instead in the deep for 44.
Duminy and Mulder then took the Proteas home by 5 wickets as they won in 26.1 overs.
The pitch was not as easy as everyone thought it would be and because of this, batsmen had to work harder for their runs. It was disappointing from a South African perspective that their batsmen were not able to adapt quickly enough to the pitch. The side is inexperienced, but the batting is still a problem and needs serious work.
Lungi Ngidi was quite rightly named Man of the Match, and despite Dale Steyn not playing, Ngidi was happy to have him around, saying:
“Dale is very helpful, he’s our most experienced bowler. And he also gave me a few tips when we were out there: maybe try a few cross-seam balls, maybe the odd slower one. It really does help having Dale in the system, and in the team. There are all sorts of ideas to bounce off him.”
South Africa now lead the 3-match series 1-0, and the 2nd ODI is on Wednesday 3rd October in Bloemfontein, and starts at 1pm SA time.