Dane Piedt produced the best performance by a debutant South African spinner as the Proteas thumped Zimbabwe by nine wickets to retain their number one status following the one-off contest at the Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.
After bowling Zimbabwe out for 181 in the second innings, the visitors knocked off their target of 41 for the loss of openDean Elgar, who was bowled by Tendai Chatara for 21.
Having been drafted into the side for leg-spinner Imran Tahir, the 24-year-old Piedt finished with match figures of eight for 152 on a helpful pitch, beating the previous best debut figures of seven for 189 by Ian Smith against England in 1947.
Fast-bowler Dale Steyn finished with eight for 84 in the match to move level with Ian Botham on 383 careers test scalps, 13th on the list of most wicket-takers.
A South African victory was always likely at the start of the day, but Zimbabwe can take heart from the fight they showed in delaying the Proteas’ celebrations until the final hour of day four. Resuming on 28 for one, they lost only nightwatchman Donald Tiripano (five) before lunch after he had a wild slog at a Piedt delivery and was bowled.
It was the middle session that set up the win for the visitors though as they ripped through the heart of the Zimbabwe batting line-up. Mark Vermeulen, who scored 21, was the first to go as he was trapped plumb leg before wicket by Steyn.
From there it was a procession as Piedt had Vusi Sibanda caught and bowled for 45, before he snagged the big wicket of home captain Brendan Taylor.
Morne Morkel (three for 15) entered into the attack and bowled Regis Chakabva for 15 after the batsman offered no stroke, while Sean Williams (3) was brilliantly caught at point by JP Duminy off the lanky pacer.
Then followed an entertaining 54-run eighth wicket stand between Richmond Mutumbami (43) and John Nyumbu (13) that briefly threatened to force the game into day five.
It was ended when Steyn had Mutumbami caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and just four balls later Nyumbu was caught and bowled by Piedt. The innings ended when Steyn collected his third wicket, sending the off-stump of Tinashe Panyangara (two) out the ground.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2014.