South Africa beat Zimbabwe to reach final

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Faf Du Plessis continued his fine form with the bat as his century helped South Africa beat Zimbabwe by 63 runs and ensured they qualified for Saturday's final against Australia.

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Fine form

The South African started this match in prime form after also hitting a brilliant century in their last game, a defeat to Australia on Tuesday, to add to another earlier in the tournament. His latest century ensured he became the first South African to score three ODI centuries in a triangular or quadrangular tournament.

Having won the toss Zimbabwe, who had already upset Australia in the triangular series, had South Africa in trouble early on, dismissing openers Quinton de Kock (2) and Hashim Amla (14) to leave the Proteas on 26-2.

South Africa rallied with the in-form Faf du Plessis and Rilee Rossouw (36) taking the score to 96 before the latter was out. Once AB de Villiers was run-out, to leave South Africa on 120-4, Zimbabwe were looking to cause another upset in the tournament.

However, a fifth wicket partnership of 103 between Du Plessis and JP Duminy (51) put Zimbabwe on the back foot. Even though Duminy departed Du Plessis continued his attack as he struck five fours and four sixes as he compiled a splendid innings of 121 from 140 balls.

When he was finally dismissed in the dying overs of the innings Du Plessis had helped South Africa towards their final total of 271-6 from their 50 overs. On this current form Du Plessis is likely to be a major hit in the World Cup next year.

No Zimbabwe repeat

Although a challenging score Zimbabwe's batsmen will have started their run-chase with optimism after their successful run-chase against Australia previously. However, it was not the same outcome this time.

Zimbabwe were never able to produce a significant partnership throughout their innings. The highest stand was just 46 for the sixth wicket. With the lack of a major partnership their innings could never gain the momentum required.

Only wicket-keeper Brendan Taylor (79) could muster a decent score as Zimbabwe's hopes crumbled under pressure from South Africa. On a turning, slow pitch Duminy was the star of the show with figures of 3-35 as Zimbabwe were bowled out for a disappointing 208.

Reason for optimism?

Despite defeat in this game Zimbabwe will take heart from their performances in the tournament. Although they recorded just a solitary win, a huge shock victory over the Aussies, and finishing bottom of the table there are many positives to be taken from their games.

All their players have been exposed to top class opposition which can only improve their games, they have achieved a shock victory and they have also hosted a tournament at home. All of these are a step in the right direction for Zimbabwe cricket.

Zimbabwe are not going to win the World Cup next year but I am pretty sure that they can cause an upset to one of the top nations during the tournament. On the flip side can we honestly say, on the performances we have seen so far, that Australia or South Africa will win the World Cup?

The triangular series concludes on Saturday with the expected heavyweight final between Australia and South Africa. Both sides will hope that this is a rehearsal for the World Cup final next year?

South Africa cricket

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