Three wickets apiece for Ryan McLaren (3-21) and Wayne Parnell (3-28) fired South Africa to a 61-run victory over Zimbabwe in the second ODI at Bulawayo, subsequently handing them an unassailable lead in the three-match series.
The two seamers were economical, chastening the Zimbabwean run chase and taking regular wickets to bowl the home side out for 196 in the 50th over.
Earlier in the day, Faf du Plessis top-scored with 55 as South Africa set their opponents 258 for victory, but that target proved too high for Elton Chigumbura’s side to reach.
Quinton de Kock (38) and Hashim Amla (15) got South Africa off to a solid start after being put into bat by Zimbabwe, putting on 47 for the opening wicket at a run-a-ball.
And the fall of Amla invited the Proteas’ eventual top-scorer to the crease. Faf du Plessis may have taken 72 balls to complete his 55, but it was an important knock that gave the side direction and kept the scoreboard ticking over.
This was especially important when skipper AB de Villiers was run out for just 1.
With the score at 60-3, JP Duminy was tasked with putting on a partnership with du Plessis, and the diminutive left-hander’s contribution of 36 helped steer the South Africans back on course for setting a challenging target.
David Miller (45) smashed two sixes to accelerate the run rate after du Plessis was caught by Chigumbura off the bowling of Prosper Utseya.
Wayne Parnell (24) and Kyle Abbott (23) added healthy contributions down the order as South Africa were all out for 257 with two balls of their innings still to spare.
Some tight bowling from South African opening seamers Abbott and Parnell restricted Zimbabwe to less than three-an-over in the opening half of their reply.
The Hampshire fast bowler failed to get a wicket, but his eight overs included two maidens, and went for just 19 runs.
In contrast, Parnell managed three dismissals in addition to his economical bowling. The 25-year-old bowled Hamilton Masakadza (7) in the eighth over, just three balls after Aaron
Phangiso had trapped Richmond Mutumbami lbw for 12.
At 21-2, chasing 258 to win, the hosts were in trouble. And a 14-ball duck for Sikandar Raza did little to help matters.
Zimbabwe veteran Brendan Taylor (14) was not far behind on his way back to the pavilion, before captain Chigumbura was out for 7 to leave scoreboard reading 59-5.
With the lower-order exposed, and already behind on the required run rate, the chances of victory were becoming increasingly slim.
The only form of Zimbabwean resistance with the bat came courtesy of Sean Williams. The left-hander recorded a 16th ODI fifty with his knock of 55, but he failed to receive much support from his teammates.
Neville Madziva swung the bat towards the end of the innings, but it was to no avail. The bowler made 25 and smashed four boundaries before Imran Tahir bowled him.
The leg spinner ousted John Nyumbu (18) in the final over to end proceedings, but not before Brian Vitori raced to 20 not out. Batting at number 11, the tailender smashed two fours and as many sixes in his eight-ball unbeaten stay at the crease.
But it was a small consolation that solely reduced the margin of defeat for Zimbabwe, who now trail 2-0 in the series with only one match remaining.