Jean-Paul Duminy and David Miller smashed spectacular centuries as South Africa got past a fighting Zimbabwe by 62 runs in their cricket World Cup opener at Seddon Park, on Sunday.
The left-handed duo of Miller (138 no off 92 balls) and Duminy (115 no off 100) lifted South Africa to 339 after struggling at 83 for four. In the process, the two shared a world record fifth-wicket partnership with an unbeaten 265-run stand off 178 balls.
Zimbabwe gave their best during the steep chase but a middle-order collapse led to their downfall and they ended at 277 with 10 balls to spare. The contributions from Chamu Chibhabha (64), Hamilton Masakadza (80) and Brendon Taylor (40) went in vain.
They kept themselves in the game until Masakadaza’s dismissal in the 33rd over triggered a batting collapse. From 191 for two, Zimbabwe were reduced to 246 for seven, ending all hopes of an upset win.
South Africa’s premier pace bowler Dale Steyn had a not-so-good day in office, conceding 48 runs in eight overs. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 36 runs in 10 overs.
Earlier, Miller and Duminy led South Africa’s recovery after Zimbabwe bowled well on a pitch offering assistance to the fast bowlers.
A big upset looked on the cards when Zimbabwe had their fancied rivals reeling at 83 for four with their in-form skipper Ab de Villiers (25) also back in the hut. It was a moment to remember South Africa’s shock loss against their African counterparts in the tournament’s 1999 edition.
As it panned out, Miller and Duminy got together only to take the game away from the opposition.
The dangerous duo known for their big-hitting prowess smashed the bowlers to all corners of the park. Miller, as he has often shown in the IPL, hit sixes at will, ending with nine of them.
Miller did not spare any bowler but took a particular liking for medium-pacer Solomon Mire, hammering him for a 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 6 (30 runs) in the 47th over.
Sixes and fours became a routine towards the end of the innings as South Africa amassed 146 runs from the last 10 overs.
While Miller marauded to his second ODI hundred, Duminy cruised to his fourth ton. The more experienced batsman collected nine fours and three sixes.
Zimbabwe used the conditions well early on after Elton Chigumbura opted to bat.
It was rare to see South Africa’s explosive top four fail with Quinton de Kock (7), Hashim Amla (11), Faf du Plessis (24) and de Villers (25) falling cheaply.