Gibbs on fire as South Africa coast home
South Africa opener Herschelle Gibbs found his form with an unbeaten 93 as the Proteas beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets in their triangular series one-day international here on Sunday.
Gibbs, who had made five, five and one in South Africa's three previous series matches, faced 97-balls including two sixes and 12 fours.
But Zimbabwe were convinced they had Gibbs caught behind for nought in the first over of South Africa's s reply to their inadequate 174 for eight.
Martin van Jaarsveld was eight not out.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who had seen several of his bowling changes rewarded with quick wickets, made 58 in an opening stand with Gibbs of 154.
That snuffed out what little hope Zimbabwe had of winning following Smith's decision to field first.
The result left South Africa seven points clear of second-placed England and meant Zimbabwe had to gain at least one bonus point against England at Bristol on Sunday to stay alive in the tournament.
Earlier Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak's 54 was the centrepiece of his team's meagre total after they were inserted on a lively pitch.
He faced 72 balls including one six and six fours before he was bowled by Jacques Kallis' brisk medium-pace.
Kallis was the most successful bowler with three for 47 while Shaun Pollock opened the innings with a typically miserly spell, his first seven overs costing just eight runs including three maidens.
Together with Sean Ervine (18), Streak rescued Zimbabwe from 92 for six with a stand of 52 in 68 balls.
And fast bowler Streak continued to take the attack to the Proteas in the field.
In the first over he was convinced he had Gibbs caught behind for a third ball nought by wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu.
But Gibbs stood his ground and English umpire Peter Willey rejected the appeal with South Africa two without loss.
And on 17, Gibbs was bowled by an Andy Blignaut delivery only for Australian umpire Simon Taufel to correctly call no-ball as the medium-pacer overstepped.
Gibbs cashed in while left-hander Smith, also played some fine strokes.
Zimbabwe created few clearcut chances although left-arm spinner Raymond Price had a good, first ball, lbw shout against Smith (then 35) turned down by Taufel in the 19th over.
Gibbs then launched Marillier for a straight six that brought up his fifty in 53 balls with seven fours.
He then played the most extraordinary shot of the day, a backfoot force off medium-pacer Travis Friend going over cover for six.
Medium-pacer Ervine took a wicket first ball when Smith was caught behind by Taibu, having faced 98 balls including nine fours in a 182-ball stand with Gibbs.
But Gibbs finished the match with a straight driven four off Ervine.
South Africa's next triangular match is a day/nighter against England at Edgbaston on Tuesday.