Best figures for Tahir in masterclass
An Imran Tahir masterclass and half-century from debutant Rassie van der Dussen helped the Proteas cruise to a comfortable 34-run victory over Zimbabwe in the opening T20 international at Buffalo Park on Tuesday night.
Tahir, opening the bowling alongside Lungi Ngidi, claimed three wickets in his first spell and two in his second to post his best T20 international figures of 5/23 in four overs.
Chasing 161 to win, Zimbabwe were in all sorts of trouble on 11/3 in the fourth over, as Ngidi only conceded five runs in his first two overs while Tahir yorked Chamu Chibhabha (3) in his first, and then trapped Hamilton Masakadza (1) and had Tarisai Musakanda caught behind by Quinton de Kock for a first-ball duck in his second.
Brendan Taylor (19) and Sean Williams (21) tried to revive the innings but Junior Dala accounted for Taylor and the returning Tahir got Williams, both caught by De Kock, while Elton Chigumbura was trapped LBW for a first-ball duck by the spinner with Zimbabwe basically out of it at 65/6 in the 12th over.
Peter Moor (44) and Brandon Mavuta (26) took Tabraiz Shamsi and Dala to the cleaners with an entertaining 53-run eighth wicket partnership off just 19 balls but it was not enough as they fell to 126 all out in the end.
At the start of play, Du Plessis brought out what he called his “professional coin-tosser” – JP Duminy, who, though not in the team, duly obliged and won the toss, with Du Plessis choosing to bat.
It was not the best of starts for the Proteas as in the first over debutant Gihahn Cloete (2) slashed at a ball from Kyle Jarvis that came across the lefthander and was not full enough to drive, getting an outside edge to captain Masakadza at first slip.
In the second over, De Kock (5) tried to pull a length ball from Christopher Mpofu that was not high enough and ended up top-edging it to deep midwicket where Chibhabha took an easy catch with the Proteas in a bit of trouble on 11/2.
This brought Van der Dussen to the crease to join Du Plessis and the pair then set about rebuilding the innings with a positive 41-run stand that was dominated by the captain.
Du Plessis had announced his arrival at the crease with a boundary and he then took a liking to new bowler Tendai Chisoro, hitting him for two sixes in his first over, one flicked over wide long on and the other slapped over cover, followed by three fours in his next over.
Van der Dussen then got in on the action, swivelling and pulling a full ball from Jarvis over deep backward square leg for six at the start of the sixth over to bring up the Proteas 50.
In the next over, Mavuta came into the attack and struck first ball as Du Plessis tried to drive the ball over the offside but ended up caught on the deep extra cover boundary for 34 off 20 balls (5x4; 2x6), leaving them on 52/3.
Miller was next man in and along with Van der Dussen set about a comfortable partnership of 87 runs off 65 balls, with them bringing up the hundred in the 13th over with a boundary off the last ball of Chisoro’s third over.
An action-packed 17th over saw Van der Dussen bring up his half-century off 39 balls, powering Jarvis for two boundaries at the start of the over, while Miller hit the fourth ball for a six as the fielder on the boundary stepped on the rope after taking the catch, and Miller fell for 39 off 34 balls (1x4; 2x6) off the last ball, skying it to long on.
Van der Dussen then fell for 56 off 44 balls (5x4; 1x6), topedging to mid-off at the end of the 18th and though the 150 came up in the 19th over, tight bowling meant the Proteas finished on 160/6.