Proteas make storming start

South Africa limited Zimbabwe to 248-9 at stumps on day one of their Test in Harare as Dale Steyn and debutant Dane Piedt claimed four wickets apiece.

Against what is the top-ranked Test side in the world, the hosts were in trouble early on on 33-2 and then stumbled to 120-5, with Piedt having removed the returning Mark Vermeulen with his very first ball before later taking two wickets in one over.

Zimbabwe showed some fight, though, with captain Brendan Taylor falling just short of posting a century, hitting 93, and Hamilton Masakadza making a decent contribution of 45.

Taylor won the toss and his decision to put his team in to bat was soon looking questionable as, without a run on the board, Vusi Sibanda fell for a duck in the third over to Steyn's first delivery of the day, nicking it to Alviro Petersen.

In came Vermeulen, the 35-year-old who has not played Test cricket for a decade.

His comeback was relatively short-lived, halting at 14 runs as spinner Piedt made an immediate impact, trapping him lbw.

That brought Taylor out to the middle, and some of South Africa's momentum was subsequently lost, Zimbabwe getting to 64 without further loss by lunch and putting on 57 in total for the fourth wicket.

But once that stand between the skipper and Masakadza was ended, more damage was soon inflicted.

Piedt bowled Masakadza and then, two balls later and with no runs being added, saw off Regis Chakabva (duck), who flicked straight to South Africa captain Hashim Amla.

That was 90-4 and the score moved to 120-5 when Sean Williams (24) edged Steyn behind to Quinton de Kock.

Zimbabwe were on 165-5 at tea, and Taylor and Richmond Mutumbami produced a sixth-wicket partnership of 59 before the latter became Steyn's third victim, going lbw for 21.

The wickets kept coming in the final session of the day as Vernon Philander made it 204-7, his delivery being sent by Tinashe Panyangara (12) towards De Kock, who pulled off a fine catch to his right.

The all-important scalp of Taylor was next to be secured, his slog to the deep-midwicket boundary being caught by JP Duminy to add to Piedt's record, which finished as 4-90.

And Steyn ended on figures of 4-45 after taking the last wicket of the day, Tendai Chatara (22) becoming another man to be ousted by a catch behind from De Kock to leave the home side on 246-9.

At stumps, Zimbabwe had Donald Tiripano and John Nyumbu at the crease on nine and nought not out respectively.