SA skittle Zimbabwe on day two

Quick-armed Morne Morkel in action for South Africa against Zimbabwe during their test match at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth
Picture: Werner Hills

Morkel helps demolish neighbours as Proteas too strong for uninspiring side

South Africa exposed just how weak Zimbabwean cricket is when they wiped the floor with them in less than two days of their day-night, pink ball test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Scheduled for four days, the test only lasted five sessions – as Zimbabwe lost 16 wickets on day two, to hand the Proteas victory by an innings and 120 runs.

After Morne Morkel had collected a five-for in the tourists’ first innings of 68, Keshav Maharaj and Andile Phehlukwayo picked up five and three wickets respectively to dismiss Zimbabwe for 121 in their follow-on innings just before the supper break.

It was a dismal performance by South Africa’s northern neighbours, with some of their batsmen just not interested in trying to guts it out.

Admittedly, they batted under trying conditions during the first session of their first innings but, as for the remainder, it was just embarrassing and technically deficient.

For South Africa, it was a job well done. But then again they were expected to be too strong for their opposition, with Zimbabwe ranked last on the International Cricket Council test standings.

Greater tests await South Africa this summer in series against India and Australia.

Just how good the preparation against Zimbabwe was remains to be seen, but there were positives upon which to build for the summer.

Their fast bowlers all came through unscathed, with Morkel and Vernon Philander returning well from injury. Aiden Markram continues to blossom as an opening batsman and AB de Villiers reminded us just how much he has been missed, with a classy knock in the Proteas’ only innings.

It remains to be seen whether Dale Steyn and Faf du Plessis will be fit to face India in Cape Town on January 5 – and Quinton de Kock is also in doubt, having suffered a hamstring strain while batting in the match against Zimbabwe.

But South Africa will be pleased with their efforts over the two days – they produced a consummate performance which earned them two extra days of rest.

The tourists resumed yesterday at 30 for four, after having been bullied into submission by a fired-up Morkel in the opening evening session on Tuesday.

There was no respite in the first session on day two as the South African attack, spearheaded again by the lanky fast bowler, just kept on storming.

Morkel’s first ball around the wicket for the day was a thing of beauty and struck the top of Ryan Burl’s off-stump.

Sikander Raza was next in and the second ball he faced was a nasty, rising delivery that cannoned into his shoulder. Two balls later he looked relieved to be on his bike, giving Morkel his fifth wicket of the innings.

It was Morkel’s first five-for in five years – with the last coming against Australia, in Adelaide, in November 2012. Morkel finished with five wickets for only 21 runs.

Kagiso Rabada and Phehlukwayo took two wickets apiece to see Zimbabwe rolled for 68.

Morkel was nursed in the second innings, only bowling four overs, so it was left to Maharaj and Phehlukwayo to get the job done.

And they stood up and were counted, with Maharaj finishing with five for 59.

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