Kimberley - The Proteas beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in their opening one-day international here on Sunday.
Scorecard: Proteas v Zimbabwe - 1st ODI
Chasing a meagre 118 for victory, the South Africans made heavy work at the start of their chase and were in somewhat of a pickle at 58 for 4.
However, Heinrich Klaasen's 44 steadied the ship as the hosts won after batting for only 26.1 overs.
Earlier, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 117 in 34.1 overs, with Lungi Ngidi taking 3/19.
Ngidi picked up the man-of-the-match award as Zimbabwe were bundled out for their lowest total against South Africa after being sent into bat on a pitch of inconsistent bounce.
In addition, there was purchase available for the spinners who also got into the wickets column.
Klaasen built on the favourable impression that he created in his debut series against India earlier this year (average of 36 and strike rate of 90) to make easily the top score of the match of a career best 44 (44 balls, 5 fours and 2 sixes) with only three other batsmen in the match getting into the 20s. He was eventually caught in the deep going for a third successive six but by that time the match was finished as a contest.
Along with Ngidi, he was probably the one player on the fringes of the Proteas first choice squad who did the most to improve his chances of World Cup selection. This is particularly so, bearing in mind the back-up wicketkeeping skills to Quinton de Kock he provides as well.
Ngidi has now taken 21 wickets in only nine matches at an average of 20.19 and has taken three or more wickets in four of those matches. The Zimbabwe batsmen were not able to cope with the new ball menace that he and Kagiso Rabada provided and they, in turn, were well backed up by Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder.
There was also an impressive showing from Imran Tahir who looks to have added further variation to his already formidable arsenal.
When the Proteas batted, they were also tested by the Zimbabwe seamers, the best of whom was Tendai Chatara who had a single spell of 2/12 in 6 overs. The conditions were hardly ideal for the aggressive brand of batting the Proteas are endeavouring to produce.
The Proteas will be happy to get off the mark in this three-match series. Remarkably, for the first time since the early days of unity, Zimbabwe fielded a substantially more experienced team than the 11 players the Proteas put on the field. JP Duminy, who scored his 5 000th ODI run and became the ninth Protea to reach this mark, was the only South Africa in the game with more than 100 caps with Imran Tahir and Rabada the only other two with more than 50. Zimbabwe had four centurions in their line-up.
The second match takes place at Bloemfontein’s Mangaung Oval on Wednesday and the final one at Boland Park on Saturday.
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, JP Duminy (captain), Heinrich Klaasen, Christiaan Jonker, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi
Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Brandon Mavuta, Kyle Jarvis, Wellington Masakadza, Tendai Chatara