SuperSport Challenge wrap-upPosted by brmtaylor.com admin on January 07, 2008
South Africa Composite XI were really no match for Zimbabwe. And a depleted Zimbabwe team at that, at various times without the class of Sean Williams, the nagging accuracy of Gary Brent and the showmanship of Brendan Taylor. Zimbabwe won the SuperSport Challenge 3-0, and were rarely challenged.
In the second game Zimbabwean fans had feared the worst when the boys were out for 89, but it turned out it was a lousy pitch as the SAC XI didn't do much better. In the third game, Zimbabwe trailed by 100 runs but even that wasn't enough to stop a second innings slaughter. Really though, it was the first game that set the mood for Zimbabwe. Thanks to Prosper Utseya's unbeaten century and a useful contribution from Hamilton Masakadza, Zimbabwe went on to score nearly 500 first innings runs. Brendan Taylor scored the winning runs in the second innings, at one point at a strike rate of nearly 200.
The series was more or less a showcase for individual brilliance. Besides the Utseya ton, he also averaged 16 with the ball for the series, ending as the leading wicket taker with 18 scalps. He took 2 five wicket hauls, and ended with 8/80 in one match - his best First Class match figures. He was also the second leading run scorer, behind Tatenda Taibu. Prosper Utseya is the brmtaylor.com man of the series.
Elton Chigumbura was also impressive with the ball, ending with 13 wickets at 19.46 and 5/33 as his best figures. It must have been a series for all rounders - Chigumbura scored over 200 runs for the series and was the third leading run scorer.
Tatenda Taibu and Sean Williams both scored important centuries. Williams, selected for the last match ahead of Brendan Taylor, had a series average of 67.50.
Timycen Maruma was a revelation. He scored 58 runs from his 3 innings, including one score of 35 (his highest in First Class cricket) and one in the 20's. He also took 10 wickets, potentially becoming a dark horse in the race to be the Zimbabwe's second spinner. At the moment Prosper Utseya and Ray Price are pretty much secured in their positions, but Price hasn't been a big wicket taker in the past few months, while Maruma has.
This was an important series for Zimbabwe. They were tested at times, and came through each time. It is important that Zimbabwe learn to win consistently, as up until now wins were limited to the occasional upset. It will provide a good warm up for the upcoming Pakistan series, hopefully the good wins rubbed off on the players.