Unconvincing Proteas keep control

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Spinner John Nyumbu upstaged batsman Faf du Plessis, but South Africa maintained command over Zimbabwe regardless on day three of the one-off Test at the Harare Sports Club on Monday.

Spinner John Nyumbu upstaged batsman Faf du Plessis, but South Africa maintained command over Zimbabwe regardless on day three of the one-off Test at the Harare Sports Club on Monday.

The Proteas final total of 397 all out brought a healthy lead of 141, which the hosts reduced to 113 in moving to 28 for one at the close of play. Opener Vusi Sibanda and nightwatchman Donald Tiripano will resume on eight and one not out respectively.

The tourists took almost 160 overs to register an arguably substandard total, with du Plessis at the fore of the sluggishness en route to a near century from all of 264 deliveries. The dogged right-hander perished two runs short of three figures, affording Nyumbu one of five cherished wickets.

The debutant slow bowler completed figures of five for 157, earning plenty of praise across three balls shy of 50 patient overs. The right-handed du Plessis was supported well enough by wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock and the left-handed JP Duminy, whose respective 81 and 55 also challenged difficult conditions conducive to turn.

A team eight positions superior in the International Cricket Council rankings, later struggled for an initial breakthrough. Fast bowler Morne Morkel eventually obliged, dismissing the veteran Hamilton Masakadza with some sharp lateral movement.

The day, too, saw the in-form AB de Villiers displaced by Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara at the top of the ICC rankings for Test batsmen – and the seasoned Vernon Philander replaced by Indian Ravichandran Ashwin at the helm of the rankings for Test all-rounders.

The number one-ranked Test team will require a decidedly stronger performance come Tuesday, when no less than triumph inside four days will resurrect an admittedly shaky performance.

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