J P Duminy hit 96 not out, the highest score by a South African in a Twenty20 international, and it proved just enough to secure a 2-0 series victory against Zimbabwe at the Diamond Oval.
Duminy propelled South Africa to an imposing 194 for six in 20 overs but Zimbabwe made a spirited reply before losing by eight runs yesterday. Brendan Taylor and Chamu Chibhabha both hit 59 as Zimbabwe raced to 122 for one with seven overs remaining. In the end it was Duminy's late assault that made the difference.
The left-hander made his runs off 54 balls, with his last 46 scored off just 17 deliveries, as South Africa scored 67 off the last five overs of their innings.
It was a closing rate Zimbabwe could not match as five batsmen fell to catches off attempted big hits and captain Elton Chigumbura was run out attempting an improbable second run in the penultimate over.
Zimbabwe's total of 186 for seven was their highest in a Twenty20 international and Chigumbura said he was happy with his side's improved showing after they went down by seven wickets with 25 balls remaining in the first match in Bloemfontein on Friday.
"It was a much better performance, especially with the ball," said Chigumbura, "but the last three overs went for many (runs). Overall I'm happy." Johan Botha, South Africa's newly-appointed Twenty20 captain, gave credit to Zimbabwe for making the match so close. "They played excellently in the chase," he said.
For Duminy it marked a strong start to a new season after a disappointing 2009/10 campaign.
He followed up an unbeaten 35 in the first game with a score which surpassed Loots Bosman's previous South African best of 94, made against England at Centurion last season.
Duminy hit ten fours and four sixes after he came to the wicket with his side on 29 for two, with both wickets taken by Zimbabwe off-spinner Prosper Utseya, who opened the bowling.
"We lost a few key wickets up front, so it was about rebuilding the innings, then launching at the end," said Duminy.
"It's always good to get runs under the belt, especially for me after an iffy sort of season last season." Opening batsman Taylor starred for Zimbabwe, hitting 59 off 39 balls after claiming the key wicket of Graeme Smith and conceding only 16 runs in four overs with his rarely-used off-spin bowling.