South Africa thrash Zimbabwe by eight wickets

Chennai, Feb 12 (PTI) Backed by solid performances fromthe top order batsmen, title contenders South Africa scored athumping eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe with 26.3 overs tospare in their first warm-up match of the ICC World Cup at theM A Chidambaram Stadium here tonight.

After bundling out Zimbabwe for 152 in 41.5 overs, SouthAfrica went about the task of chasing in a clinical stylehammering the required runs in just 23.3 overs.

Jacques Kallis, who has recovered from rib injury,struck a quick-fire 49 off 39 balls making good use of theplatform laid by openers captain Graeme Smith (41, 54 balls,3x4, 1x6) and Hasim Amla (45, 33 balls, 7x4) as South Africacoasted to a deserving win scoring 153 for 2 with more thanhalf of their allotted overs left.

Walking in at the fall of Amla''s wicket with the total at69, Kallis in his inimitable style went after the bowlers inaggressive manner and succeeded with his big hits (three six)fast forwarding South African chase for a deserving win.

Kallis'' performance not only put at rest doubts about hisfitness since recovering from a rib injury he suffered duringIndia''s recent tour but also boosted the confidence of Smithas Proteas hope to win their elusive World Cup.

The match turned out to be a one-sided affair afterZimabwe frittered away a good opportunity to gain matchpractice putting up a insipid batting display and failed tolast allotted 50 overs.

But for the efforts of Brendan Taylor (40, 57 balls, 3x4)and Sean Williams (35, 60 balls, 2x4), who came in at No.7,sticking to the crease and stitching up valuable partnerships,they could have been in deeper trouble.

As far the Proteas bowling, Smith rotated his bowlersusing eight of them to assess their adaptability to the slowerwickets in the sub-continent conditions.

Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir, on whom Smith hasgreat expectations in the coming World Cup, impressed with athree-wicket haul like experienced fast bowler Morne Morkel asthe two ripped apart the Zimbabwean batting line-up.

Amongst the two sides, South African players were seenbetter acclimatized to the conditions with the fielders equalto the task taking catches besides stopping boundaries.

AB de Villiers, who was chosen ahead of experienced MarkBoucher to keep wickets in the mega event, proved hisabilities in adjusting to the low bounce by taking threecatches and not yielding a single bye. .

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