Zimbabwe deny Warriors in thriller
Johan Botha nabbed four wickets but Zimbabwe still managed to clinch a thrilling two-wicket victory at the death in their Standard Bank Pro20 match against the Chevrolet Warriors in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Botha's spin wizardry saw him take four for 19 in his four overs as the St George's Park pitch favoured the slower bowlers and Zimbabwe slumped to 91 for seven with just four overs remaining to score 32 runs.
But the Warriors failed to kill off the game as young Steven Nyamuzinga (12*) and Ray Price (5*), who had earlier starred with the ball, took them home with a ball to spare.
Zimbabwe had earlier made a fine start as they set off in search of just 123 for victory.
Botha had started his wonderful evening in the field by running out the experienced Hamilton Masakadza for a run-a-ball 21 with a beautiful throw from midwicket and Zimbabwe were rocked by another run out when Tatenda Taibu (22) was surprised by Chamunorwa Chibhabha's call for a single.
The Warriors were still in a bit of bother, however, as Zimbabwe reached 66 for two in the 12th over when Botha came on to bowl.
But the international off-spinner's bowling proved too hot to handle as he trapped Chibhabha leg-before for a run-a-ball 31 and removed Elton Chigumbura two balls later.
Botha showed he is a dangerous turner of the ball as well as he bowled both Stuart Matsikenyeri (4) and Keith Dabengwa (2) with rippers.
Zimbabwe needed 19 runs off the last two overs and zeroed in on their target as Prosper Utseya and Price drilled boundaries off the military medium pace of Zander de Bruyn in a penultimate over that cost 10 runs.
Nyamuzinga struck Juan Theron for a four and then two runs off the penultimate delivery to take centre stage when it was time for the final bows.
Theron and Botha both conceded less than five runs an over and De Bruyn's last over was his only expensive one as he took one for 25 in four.
Earlier, Zimbabwe's slow bowlers had throttled the Warriors before a quick burst at the death took them to 122 for five.
Two run outs in the Warriors top-order put Zimbabwe in charge, with that of Justin Kreusch, who was getting into his stride with 30 off 33 balls, proving particularly costly. Twelfth man Timycen Maruma produced slick work on the third man boundary for that wicket.
Warriors batting kingpins Arno Jacobs, splendidly caught for three by Utseya, leaping high at cover, off Chigumbura, and Davey Jacobs, caught behind off spinner Price for 10, both fell cheaply and captain De Bruyn, who finished on a boundary-less 14 not out off 24 balls, struggled to get going.
Botha, who hit two fours and a six in his 23 off 16 balls, and Craig Thyssen, who finished on 24 not out off just 11 deliveries, did well to grow the run-rate in the closing stages.
Thyssen's six off Chibhabha, heaved over square-leg, to end the innings was even bigger than Botha's earlier effort off Utseya.
Chibhabha was the one bowler to be plundered, but the rest were cunning operators and the Warriors batsmen had to keep their eye on them.
Left-arm spinner Dabengwa was the pick with one for 20 in his four overs, but Price (one for 21) and Utseya, who conceded just 25 runs in his four overs, can also celebrate good performances.
Seamer Chigumbura conceded just 14 runs in his three overs up front and took a wicket.