HAMBANTOTA (TIP): If Australia’s victory over Ireland can be called routine for a bigger nation against a smaller one, then South Africa’s over Zimbabwe was surgically clinical, almost coldly so.

After limiting their neighbours to thier second-lowest total in T20 cricket, South Africa chased down the target inside 13 overs.

With some assistance for the seamers, Dale Steyn wasable to scare the Zimbabwe batsmen with swing and pace while Morne Morkel intimidated them further, combining bounce and intermittent use of the full ball. But it was Jacques Kallis who broke the back of Zimbabwe’s batting with discipline, variation and supreme experience as he took four wickets to send Zimbabwe home red-faced.

They exit the tournament having lost both their matches, which may have been expected but the manner in which they fell would have left them disappointed. Far from putting up the fight they promised, Zimbabwe could not even aim a punch at their opponents’ body. Their batting, in particular, was an indication of the importance of regular cricket, something Zimbabwe have sorely lacked. After their first five overs against South Africa, Zimbabwe looked in danger of not lasting 20, as they teetered on 17 for 3. Kallis had not bowled a ball at that stage. Morkel offered Vusi Sibanda three balls short of a length and then bowled one fuller.

Sibanda was on his back foot, anticipating more of the short stuff, and missed the drive to have his bails removed.
Morkel’s next wicket was not achieved through menace.

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Brendan Taylor reached for a ball outside off, did not movehis feet and edged behind to de Villiers. With Zimbabwe in trouble, Masakadza tried to make something happen and attempted a lofted drive off Albie Morkel but offered Richard Levi a simple catch at mid-on. Craig Ervine scored more than a third of Zimbabwe’s runs and four of the six boundaries and looked like hecould rescue the team.

He and Stuart Matsikenyeri put on35 for the fourth wicket and settled Zimbabwe temporarily. Matsikenyeri threw it away though, when he flat-batted Kallis to extra cover.

Kallis removed Elton Chigumbura plumb lbw with his next ball but Graeme Cremer saw off the hat-trick delivery. Ervine had two more stands which could have developed into steadying ones with Cremer and Prosper Utseya but both his partners abandoned him.