Steyn and Tahir inspire Proteas to dominant win over Zimbabwe

South Africa took an unassailable 2-0 lead in its ODI series with Zimbabwe as Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir impressed.

Dale Steyn scored a career-best 60 with the bat.   -  AFP

Dale Steyn made an impressive return to ODI cricket and Imran Tahir grabbed a hat-trick as South Africa thrashed Zimbabwe by 120 runs to wrap up the series. 

Paceman Steyn, who last featured in an ODI in October 2016, recorded his highest 50-over score with an eye-catching 60 in the Proteas' 198 all out.

And the 35-year-old rounded off a productive day in Bloemfontein by taking 2-19 with the ball, while Tahir enjoyed a share of the spotlight with figures of 6-24.

Zimbabwe is now winless in 28 consecutive one-day clashes against South Africa and trails 2-0 in the three-match series. 

Having won the opening clash by the 27th over and with five wickets in hand, the host made a surprisingly sluggish start on Wednesday.

It was reduced to 26-3, Dean Elgar, Reeza Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen contributing just six runs between them.

Opener Aiden Markram had provided some resistance, his 35 including six boundaries, but it was way down the order that South Africa finally found its hero.

Steyn easily surpassed his previous ODI best of 35, clocking up eight fours and a sumptuous maximum before finally being bowled by Donald Tiripano.

Chasing a modest total, Zimbabwe did not take long to collapse, Steyn accounting for Solomon Mire in the third over.

Captain Hamilton Masakadza's 27 was one of only three double-figure scores in the tourist's innings, which was decimated by Tahir.

His hat-trick was spread across two overs, claiming Sean Williams, Peter Moor and Brandon Mavuta before taking out Kyle Jarvis to make it four wickets in six balls.

Tahir also took the final wicket of Tendai Chatara, with Steyn fittingly snaffling the catch to condemn Zimbabwe to another chastening loss.