Cape Town – The Proteas have won the first T20 International against Zimbabwe by 34 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Set 161 to win, Zimbabwe were once again bamboozled by home side leg-spinner and Man of the Match Imran Tahir who ended with 5/23 from his four overs.
Like he did in the ODI between the teams in Paarl, Tahir was entrusted to open the bowling.
The decision immediately paid dividends with the excitably spinner quickly having the visitors reeling at 11/3 having removed Chamu Chibhabha (3), Hamilton Masakadza (1) and Tarisai Musakanda (0) by the end of his second over.
Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams steadied the ship somewhat, taking Zimbabwe to 40 in the 8th over before Junior Dala struck, with Taylor brilliant caught by Quinton de Kock as he tried to ramp the ball over the Proteas keeper.
After Williams and Peter Moor began a fightback, Tahir returned and immediately struck, bowling Williams for 21 and trapping Elton Chigumbura the very next ball for a golden duck to leave the visitors reeling on 66 for 6.
Andile Phehlukwayo struck in the very next over, taking a caught and bowled chance off Tendai Chisoro (2) as Zimbabwe slumped to 71 for 7.
With South Africa looking like they would win comfortably, Peter Moor had other ideas, taking four sixes in a row of Tabraiz Shamsi.
He was supported by Brandon Mavuta and in the period of 8 balls, Zimbabwe had smashed 33 runs leaving them on 113 for 7, needing 48 off 28 balls.
Mavuta, who had blitzed his way to 28 off just 14 balls could only pick out third man on the boundary from a Dala full toss to bring the game back to the Proteas and leave Zimbabwe on 123 for 8.
Lungi Ngidi returned to bowl Kyle Jarvis (0) and leave South Africa within a whisker of victory. Phehlukwayo ended their innings by grabbing the wicket of Moor for a well played 44 off just 21 balls.
After Tahir’s devastating spell, Dala and Phehlukwayo’s figures of 2 for 25 were the best for South Africa.
Earlier, debutant Rassie van der Dassen scored a well-played 50, providing impetus to the Proteas innings which at one stage was struggling at 11 for 2. In doing so, he became the third Protea player to make a 50 on debut in a T20 International, following in the footsteps of Graeme Smith and Rilee Rossouw.
Van der Dassen (56), Faf du Plessis (34) and David Miller (39) helped the home side reach 160 for 6 in their 20 overs.
The second T20 International between the two sides is on Friday, October 12 in Potchefstroom at 18:00.