Paarl - Dale Steyn eased back into the longest format of the game on the opening day of the three-day tour match between Zimbabwe and a SA Invitation XI at Boland Park on Wednesday.
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The Proteas speedster slotted seamlessly back into a rhythm that belied the fact that he had been inactive for more than a year - his first nine overs cost just nine runs.
By his own admission, Steyn did not crank up the speed gun and kept his short ball in the locker for next week’s Test match, concentrating on bowling an immaculate line and length that saw him start his new ball spell with 18 consecutive dot balls.
In his fourth delivery, Steyn had a confident appeal for caught behind against Hamilton Masakadza turned down and then had a catch dropped at backward point on his 19th delivery.
The important thing was that he came through his activity without feeling the slightest pain or niggle and he created another chance in his second spell with an inside edge by the left-handed Ryan Burls that evaded the ‘keeper and went to the boundary.
Steyn clearly has a lot more ammunition in his tank which will no doubt be utilised in the build-up to next Tuesday and the start of the pink ball Test.
The seamers were not helped by a pink ball that went soft very quickly. There was nevertheless a lot to like about the first change seamer, Tladi Bokako, while the experienced franchise leg-spinner, Shaun von Berg, was as effective and reliable as ever.
He captured the key wicket of Brendan Taylor and later broke the fourth-wicket stand of 65 between Masakadza and Burls when he dismissed the latter and then got rid of Sikandar Raza as well to have excellent figures of 3-47 after 16 overs.
Masakadza provided the foundation of the Zimbabwe innings, scoring more than half the runs in the first 50 overs that saw his side reach 134/5.
However, the ball started to swing under the lights and Zimbabwe lost their last five wickets for 33 runs.
This included Lizaad Williams taking the last three wickets in four balls with Michael Cohen and Von Berg also finishing with three wickets.
Masakadza’s 79 (181 balls, 9 fours and a six) was far and away the biggest contribution to Zimbabwe’s total of 196 all out.
The hosts reached 60/3 at the close of play, with Temba Bavuma on 36 not out.
Scores in brief at close of play on the first day of a three-day, day-night match between a South African Invitation XI and the touring Zimbabweans at Boland Park on Wednesday:
Zimbabweans 196 (Hamilton Masakadza 79; Lizaad Williams 3-12, Michael Cohen 3-21, Shaun von Berg 3-64)
South African Invitation XI 60/3 (Temba Bavuma 36 not out; Kyle Jarvis 2-15)
Match situation: SA Invitation XI trail by 136 runs with seven wickets remaining in the first innings