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South Africa defeat Zimbabwe by 62 runs in World Cup

February 15, 2015

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — A record-breaking partnership of 256 by David Miller and J.P. Duminy led South Africa to a 62-run win over Zimbabwe in its opening cricket World Cup Pool B match Sunday.

The Proteas scored 339-4, led by Miller’s blistering unbeaten innings of 138 off 92 balls, which included 30 runs smashed off one over and a World Cup record nine sixes.

Duminy scored an unbeaten 115 as the pair set a new ODI record for the fifth wicket and took full advantage of the short boundaries and a drying wicket at Hamiton’s Seddon Park.

Zimbabwe began its chase well but couldn’t overcome the big total, falling short when it was all out for 277 in the 49th over.

Hamilton Masakadza scored 80 and combined with Chamu Chibhabha (64) for a 105-run stand that gave Zimbabwe a chance, before South Africa spinner Imran Tahir (3-36) stifled the run chase.

“I’m very, very satisfied with our first win,” said South African captain AB de Villiers.

After Zimbabwe won the toss and sent South Africa in to bat, the Proteas began poorly, scoring just 28 off the first 10 overs and losing both openers.

South Africa’s pain took a turn toward comedy when Zimbabwe bowler Tinashe Panyangara slipped over delivering a ball that got out Hashim Amla, played on. Panyangara lay on the pitch, smiling and writhing in delight like a beached fish.

Captain AB de Villiers was caught brilliantly for 25 by Craig Ervine, who tossed the ball into the air as he ran over the boundary and then stepped back in to complete the catch. At 83-4, South Africa appeared to be struggling.

De Villiers said after the match that at the outset the wicket was slow and sticky.

“There’s no doubt that the toss played a big part in them getting ahead early on,” he said. “It was a really difficult wicket to bat on the first 15 or 20 overs.”

But then Miller and Duminy came together. They began slowly, content to rebuild the innings and push for singles.

“The team was in a little bit of trouble, and I thought to myself, you know, just try and build a long partnership here with JP,” Miller said.

Then the pair cut loose in the last ten overs, including in the 48th when Miller smashed three sixes and three fours, which he described as “very fun.”

“I’d worked really hard for the last 25 overs, and we still had wickets in hand, so just to try and express myself toward the end,” he said.

Zimbabwe brought up 100 in the 19th over for the loss of just one wicket. Hamilton Masakadza seemed to relish playing in his namesake city, at one point playing a perfect reverse sweep for four and keeping the raucous Zimbabwean fans engaged.

Because of South Africa’s final blitz, Zimbabwe was always ahead in the chase when compared to their African neighbors at the same point in its innings. But it was a huge total to overcome and Zimbabwe wilted at the end, losing its last five wickets for 11 runs.

Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said the 30-run over was a turning point, but was pleased his team was competitive for most of the match.

“We’ve got high hopes in this tournament,” he said. “If we carry that form all the way in, it’s just a matter of being ruthless if we get the chance to win the game.”

De Villiers said Zimbabwe played smart cricket that had his team concerned at points during the match.

“I will not be surprised if they upset a couple of teams in this World Cup,” he said.

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