Kimberley: A fresh pitch played completely out of character to enliven what might have been a dreadfully one-sided contest in the first ODI between South Africa and Zimbabwe at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Sunday.
Needing just 118 to win, South Africa slipped to 58 for 4 on a surface that made strokeplay very difficult and were thankful for Heinrich Klaasen's 44 as a largely untested middle order wobbled.
A spirited performance from Zimbabwe's bowlers ensured that South Africa were made to toil for the result, but the total - Zimbabwe's lowest against South Africa - was never going to be quite enough to force an upset.
Overcoming a few nervous moments, stand-in captain JP Duminy guided his team to a five-wicket win to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Earlier, Zimbabwe crashed to 117. Opening bowler Lungi Ngidi took three for 19 to lead a potent South African bowling performance. It was Zimbabwe's lowest total in 39 one-day internationals between the two countries.
Stand-in South African captain JP Duminy's decision to bowl paid off almost immediately when Solomon Mire was caught at second slip off Ngidi without scoring.
Although captain Hamilton Masakadza made 25 and Elton Chigumbura hit 27, Zimbabwe were unable to put together any substantial partnerships as the South African bowlers exploited a pitch of variable and occasionally steep bounce.
Zimbabwe may have been unfortunate when Craig Ervine was the second batsman out, given out caught behind off Wiaan Mulder for seven. Replays suggested the ball may have missed his bat.
No decision review system is in place in this low-profile series.