HAMBANTOTA, Sept 21: South Africa´s formidable pace attack proved too good for Zimbabwe, who bowed out of the Twenty20 World Cup following a 10-wicket thrashing in a Group C game at Hambantota.
Put in to bat first, Zimbabwe were restricted to 93 for eight wickets with only Craig Ervine providing some resistance with a top score of 37 off 40 balls.
There were only six fours hit in the entire Zimbabwe innings and four of them came off Ervine´s bat.
The batsmen failed to come to terms with the quality fast bowling as Zimbabwe lost their first wicket in the second over and were soon reduced to 16 for three before Ervine and Stuart Matsikenyeri (11) provided some respite with a 35-run stand.
Jacques Kallis produced a double wicket maiden in his first over removing Matsikenyeri and trapping Elton Chigumbura lbw in successive deliveries to put the Zimbabwe innings in disarray.
The allrounder also got rid of Graeme Cremer and Ervine to end with figures of four for 15, his best in the shortest format of the game.
"We went wrong in all three departments. We dropped chances, we let balls go, we were a bit sloppy in the field, leaked too many runs with the ball and didn´t score many with the bat," Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor said.
"You are not gonna win games like that. All in all our cricket was way below par and against quality opposition you don´t stand a chance."
South Africa knocked off the required runs through their openers Richard Levi and Hashim Amla who needed just 12.4 overs to get to the target.
Levi remained unbeaten on 50 off 43 balls (six fours) while Amla was not out on 31 with three boundaries against a friendly Zimbabwe bowling attack.
"You never really get a perfect start. It´s always a game where you role out your skills and your game plans, we did it today and we are happy with that," Levi said.
"You can´t call it a subcontinent wicket with pace and bounce and quite a bit of seam upfront with the new ball but later it became nice to bat on with the pace of the wicket."
It was Zimbabwe´s second defeat in the group from as many matches and they become the first team to be eliminated from the tournament.
Zimbabwe also suffered a heavy defeat in their opening match on Tuesday when they lost to Sri Lanka by 82 runs.
"We came here to win games... at the end of the note (what) we have is very disappointing," captain Taylor added.
"We hope to bounce back stronger next time a World Cup comes around. So it´s a learning curve for us, we´ll certainly take something out of it."
Hosts Sri Lanka and South Africa will play the final match of the group on Saturday with both teams assured of advancing to the Super Eight stage of the competition.
Another element that unexpectedly came into the mix yesterday was the weather. Sri Lanka is between Monsoon seasons but Kandy clouded over appreciably yesterday and the Pallekele ground was under floodlights and the outfield completely covered when the Black Caps arrived to train.
Depending on who you talked to, the covers had come out because it had rained at Pallekele. Others hadn´t seen a drop and said the groundstaff had only covered the entire outfield as a precaution.
Taylor said New Zealand´s preference in Twenty20 cricket was to always bat first. But the potential for bad weather meant batting second was a better option under limited overs´ cricket´s Duckworth-Lewis Method.