South Africa endure shock defeat in Harare

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South Africa's World Twenty20 preparations endured a hiccup on Wednesday as they fell foul of a vibrant Zimbabwean performance to lose by 29 runs at a riotous Harare Sports Club.

South Africa's World Twenty20 preparations endured a hiccup on Wednesday as they fell foul of a vibrant Zimbabwean performance to lose by 29 runs at a riotous Harare Sports Club.

The unofficial nature of the contest appeared to be reflected in South Africa's performance, particularly in the field, but while they may have lacked intensity they were also genuinely outskilled by their smaller neighbours, who were supported by a large and impossibly noisy crowd.

A 114-run opening stand between Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda set the tone after Zimbabwe had won the toss and elected to bat, but arguably more impressive was the way in which the hosts outbowled South Africa.

Where South Africa's seamers routinely missed their lengths and found themselves being punished, Zimbabwe were clinically led by Man of the Match Chris Mpofu and never released the pressure on South Africa's batsmen.

Once Richard Levi had departed for 40 in South Africa's pursuit of 177 for victory, Colin Ingram was the only Proteas batsman to put up sustained resistance as Graeme Cremer cleaned out the middle order and rookie fast bowler Richard Muzhange put in another impressive performance.

While Zimbabwe's victory could genuinely be chalked up as a team performance, it owed plenty to the continuing form of Masakadza, who struck 55 from 39 balls, and the crucial support of Sibanda (58), whose return to Zimbabwe colours has brought back a much-needed solidity at the top of the order.

Both men climbed into anything short and found the gaps at will as South Africa's bowlers struggled. Robin Peterson was the only exception, claiming the wicket of Masakadza and generally remaining tidy, while Hashim Amla's decision to give Justin Ontong an over was the worst moment for the South Africans as a series of long hops were dispatched.

After the Zimbabwe openers had been split by Peterson, Brendan Taylor provided the flourish required at the end of the innings as he thrashed five boundaries to take his side to 176 for four.

When Levi took a liking to Kyle Jarvis' second over it looked as if it would just be another typical day in the office for South Africa, despite the loss of the in-form Amla early on.

But then the brutish opener pulled a Prosper Utseya delivery straight to Craig Ervine at deep midwicket to end a 28-ball innings and spark a middle-order collapse.

Ontong drove Cremer straight to short extra cover, Dane Vilas went first ball when he failed to read the googly, and although he survived the hat-trick ball from the legspinner, JP Duminy was clumsily stumped by Taylor in Cremer's next over.

Having been dropped by Sibanda on nought, Ingram was still going but he wasn't making a serious dent in the target and began to ran out of partners.

Albie Morkel swiped at a wide Muzhange delivery and edged through to Taylor, and a brief revival from Peterson ended when he was caught and bowled by Mpofu, who then secured the result when he deceived Ingram (48) with a slower ball.

Bowled out for 147, it was a familiar tale of a failed chase for South Africa, who will surely make changes for their next clash, which is against Bangladesh on Friday.

With two wins out of two Zimbabwe could confirm their participation in Sunday's final by beating Bangladesh on Thursday.

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