Hobart rain cruelly denies Proteas vital points over Zimbabwe in farcical circumstances

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Quinton de Kock and Regis Chakabva walk off. (Photo by Isuru Sameera/Gallo Images)
Quinton de Kock and Regis Chakabva walk off. (Photo by Isuru Sameera/Gallo Images)

Will Hobart's icy rain knock the stuffing out of the Proteas' ICC T20 World Cup campaign or inspire them to simply be rampant and try and swat aside everything that's put in front of them?

AS IT HAPPENED | SA v Zimbabwe

That's the proverbial million-dollar question being asked after Temba Bavuma and his troops agonisingly were cruelly denied potentially crucial log points after the elements finally got the better of them in an ultimately farcical opening Super 12 encounter against Zimbabwe on Monday.

Confronted with a target of 80 in nine overs, which was subsequently reduced to 64 off 7, South Africa were 51 without loss after just three overs when umpires Ahsan Raza and Michael Gough, rightly, decided that the players couldn't stay on in bucketing rain.

As a result, the Southern African neighbours share one log point, placing the Proteas under increased pressure to win all four of their remaining games to advance to the playoffs.

It's worth noting that four wins out of five last year wasn't enough.

With due respect, South Africa were expected to get their tilt at the title off to an ideal start against nuggety if limited opponents and were looking on with frustration as the weather intervened just after the national anthems had been sung.

That would be the theme for the rest of the night.

Quinton de Kock gamely and spectacularly tried his utmost best to keep the weather at bay, smashing eight fours and a six on his way for an 18-ball 46.

However, by the latter stages of that effort, conditions had become rather farcical, even though the umpires deserve credit for trying to hold out in what was essentially an impossible situation.

Zimbabwe's lanky left-arm seamer Richard Ngarava had already been a victim of the wet surface when he had to be taken off with a suspected serious ankle injury, while wicketkeeper Chakabva also slipped nastily at one stage.

When Williams was asked to bowl the fourth over, he justifiably paused and asked the umpires to have a good think about the prevailing conditions.

While the Proteas were keen for the points, Zimbabwe too have four other matches to complete and surely couldn't risk another Ngarava-type setback just to hand their opponents a win.  

There could be little complaints, to be honest.

Earlier, the Proteas began purposefully in the first four overs as they exploited their opponents' inexperience and indecision in how to deal with a rain-shortened match.

Zimbabwe's batters were initially guilty of trying to force the pace with small innovations and overeager footwork when they might've been better served playing more conventionally and getting a feel for conditions.

Instead, the openers only managed six runs off the first two overs before skipper Craig Ervine mistimed a slog to mid-on off a miserly and skilful Wayne Parnell (1/6).

Regis Chakabva seemed to have signalled a change of pace when he disdainfully hit Lungi Ngidi's first delivery for six, but the Proteas quick adjusted immediately and adopted a shorter length, a ploy that brought him immediate success.

The opener feathered to Quinton de Kock before the dangerous Sikandar Raza was dismissed in a similar manner when he tried to play a hook, only for the Proteas keeper to nonchalantly and brilliantly leap to take the grab.

When Sean Williams, colliding with Wessly Madvehere, was run out off a magnificent throw from David Miller, Zimbabwe were reduced to 19/4 and looked set for an underwhelming total.

But South Africa took their foot off the pedal to an extent and found the wet conditions tough to manage.

That shouldn't detract from the excellent Madvehere - who was gutsy and, importantly, orthodox - taking advantage with an unbeaten 35 off 18, notably taking 17 off Kagiso Rabada's second over and dragging his side to a respectable total.

As it turned out, it was the difference between the rain and South Africa getting to their target.        

To add insult to injury, the forecast for the Proteas next match against Bangladesh in Melbourne on Thursday isn't looking great either.   

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