Jean-Paul Duminy and David Miller smashed spectacular centuries as South Africa saw off a challenge from Zimbabwe to record a 62-run victory in their 2015 World Cup opener at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Sunday.
The left-handed duo of Miller (138* off 92 balls) and Duminy (115* off 100) lifted South Africa to 339 after struggling at 83 for four. In the process, the two shared a world record fifth-wicket partnership with an unbeaten 265-run stand off 178 balls.
Zimbabwe put up a fight in their chase but a middle-order collapse saw them fall at 277 all out with 10 balls to spare. Chamu Chibhabha (64), Hamilton Masakadza (80) and Brendon Taylor (40) were noteworthy contributors.
They kept themselves in the game until Masakadaza's dismissal in the 33rd over triggered a batting collapse. From 191 for two, Zimbabwe were reduced to 246 for seven, ending all hopes of an upset win.
South Africa's premier pace bowler Dale Steyn had a tough day in office, conceding 48 runs in eight overs. His first five overs cost 38 runs for no wickets as he bowled too short while the wicket nullified a lot of his pace. He finished with 1-64 from nine overs.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 36 runs in 10 overs.
"I'm happy with the result but credit must go to Elton and his boys, they really put us under pressure," South Africa captain AB de Villiers said.
"They also batted very well and probably just lost their way midway through their innings."
Earlier, a big upset looked on the cards when Zimbabwe had their fancied opponents reeling at 83 for four and their in-form skipper Ab de Villiers (25) also back in the hut. It brought back memories of South Africa's shock loss against their African counterparts in the tournament's 1999 edition.
As it panned out, Miller and Duminy got together only to take the game away from the opposition.
The dangerous duo known for their big-hitting prowess smashed the bowlers to all corners of the park. Miller, as he has often shown in the Indian Premier League, hit sixes at will, finishing with nine of them.
He did not spare any bowler and took a particular liking for medium-pacer Solomon Mire, hammering him for a 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 6 (30 runs) in the 47th over.
Sixes and fours became a routine towards the end of the innings as South Africa amassed 146 runs from the last 10 overs.
While Miller marauded to his second ODI hundred, Duminy cruised to his fourth ton. The more experienced batsman collected nine fours and three sixes.
Zimbabwe used the conditions well early on after Elton Chigumbura opted to bat.
It was rare to see South Africa's explosive top four fail with Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and de Villers falling cheaply.