South Africa v Zimbabwe, World T20 2012, Group C, Hambantota September 19, 2012

An African derby in Hambantota


Match facts

September 20, 2012
Start time 1930 local (1400 GMT)

Big picture

Hambantota will play host to an African derby as tournament favourites South Africa begin another campaign for major silverware, this time against neighbours Zimbabwe. AB de Villiers' men probably could not have asked for a gentler easing in and will view this match as the beginning of a journey that they hope will end on October 7 in Colombo, with a trophy.

Despite some in the South Africa team being on the road since June, they showed no signs of homesickness and most were delighted to be in the island nation. De Villiers posted photographs of the air-force helicopter the team travelled in and Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe put up pictures of the beach in Hambantota.

They have found ways of keeping themselves fresh, a small sign that mindset has changed under Gary Kirsten. South Africa have made promises that they are ready to perform under pressure and that, more than ability with bat and ball will be under scrutiny.

Knowing that mind games have been used successfully against South Africa in the past, Zimbabwe will look to make the most out of their victory in the unofficial tri-series in June where they beat a South African side in the final.

Expect words on the field from Zimbabwe, who will be more motivated by who their opposition is than the context in which this match is played. Their flights to Harare are probably booked and boarding passes waiting to be stamped but Zimbabwe will want to make a point before boarding.

Brendan Taylor was visibly and verbally disappointed with Zimbabwe's performance against Sri Lanka. "We are a better side than that," he said. His team will want to prove the captain right.

Form guide (last 5 completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa LWWWW
Zimbabwe LLLLL

Watch out for

He has been dubbed the man that will change South Africa's fortunes at a major tournament and if AB de Villiers is able to do that, he will be hailed as more than a hero. With the responsibility of holding the batting line-up together, wicketkeeping and leading the side, De Villiers will have more to think about at first, but the silverware will be on his mind.

Sri Lanka's batsmen found it difficult to pick Zimbabwe legspinner Graeme Cremer and he finished as their most successful bowler. With a well-disguised googly and a good arm-ball, Cremer also has the right attitude of aggression for his role. He is well used in the middle overs and could be a challenge for the likes of JP Duminy.

Team news

South Africa's squad has been hit with a tummy bug. AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis did not train but they have all been declared fit to play. They are also waiting on Albie Morkel to make a decision about their final XI. Morkel sustained lower back spasms in the warm-up match against New Zealand and was taken for MRI scan which was inconclusive in its results. He will have a fitness test on Thursday morning. If he cannot play, it could open up a spot for either Faf du Plessis, who will likely miss out on a batting role in the top order or Wayne Parnell, if South Africa opt for an extra seamer.

South Africa's batting line-up will be flexible with their top order still undecided except the opening combination of two Wynberg Boys alumini - Jacques Kallis and Richard Levi. Both Johan Botha and Robin Peterson are expected to play and they could resort back to their default bowling pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, meaning no space for Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

South Africa (probable): 1 Richard Levi, 2 Jacques Kallis, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Justin Ontong, 7 Faf du Plessis/Wayne Parnell/Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Dale Steyn

Zimbabwe's seamers came undone against Sri Lanka, which may tempt them into using an additional spinner. They had both Cremer and Prosper Utseya in action on Tuesday and could add Ray Price to the XI, in place of Chris Mpofu. With even less to lose than they had at the start of the competition, death bowling specialist Richard Muzhange could make his debut. Malcolm Waller may have to pay for a match in which he dropped two catches and made a duck and Stuart Matsikenyeri could be brought in to bolster the batting.

Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Brendan Taylor, 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Prosper Utseya, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Richard Muzhange, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Ray Price/Brian Vitori

Pitch and conditions

Although talked up as a seamer-friendly surface, the Hambantota pitch offered almost nothing. It was slow and lifeless, did not have pace or turn and the bowlers had to rely on movement through the air, or in Ajantha Mendis' case, variations to cause problems. Batsmen found the going tough at first but run-scoring became easier as they spent more time at the crease. The skies may be watched more than the ground though. Rain is predicted for Thursday evening.

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa and Pakistan are joint-second on the list of teams who have won the most consecutive T20s. Both have a string of seven victories, the same number as the maximum amount of matches the finalists will play in this edition of the competition. England and Ireland have had runs of eight wins.
  • Zimbabwe have lost their last 13 T20 matches


    "Zimbabwe are a proud country and a proud team. They will want to improve on their performance yesterday. Whatever they bring to the party, obviously, we just need to be better than them."
    Hashim Amla was in the South African XI that lost in an unofficial series final to Zimbabwe

    "We're more familiar with the South African set up and we know what they're all about. They are a quality team. We do rely heavily on our top four so we need them to fire and also for some of the others to kick on so that we can chase down totals and post big ones."
    Brendan Taylor hopes Zimbabwe will be stronger against South Africa, if only because they know them.

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adil on September 20, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    @Pappu bhai: You should better stop exaggerating of Indian bowlers after they almost lost to Afghanistan yesterday their only good luck was Afghanistan's bad fielding or else no one could have saved India from upset!

  • Casper on September 20, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Balaji I looked for him and found out he is an Indian Fast/Medium Bowler - for all those that is clueless. As for comparing him with Steyn ... ;) lol

  • KS on September 20, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    @SachTLG, ALL_IS_WELL, Abdurrasaaq, SL_rocks ; Well said brothers. @Pappu_bhai; I think you have to change your comment like this. "beware of balaji. he is 3rd class.. he is as bad as munaf patel..(or praveen kumar) LOL

  • Deepak on September 20, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    Heey ColomboSL:Meanwhile Do you have any better bowler compared to Balaji or Steyn?For me steyn is good as Balaji.But however better than SL bowlers.However we Indians have better bowlers than steyn and steyn wont have in Indian playing 11 if he was in India.Because in India we always look for intelligent bowlers too.We also have fastest bowlers like Umesh Yadav,Varun Aaron,Atul Sharma etc.But we only play with intelligence.Thats why we are world champions and not SAF or SL.

  • MASOOD on September 20, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    Mr.Amla - NOBODY has been able to master T20 cricket yet ,CORRECTION - NO country has been able to master T20 cricket yet, NOT yet even INDIA (THOUGH they PLAY more T20 Cricket in the form of IPL than any other country). I am aware that some, if not all players from other countries also play in the IPL. However there is NO way of any predictions available for the cricket pundits before the beginning of a match to pinpoint a clear winner.No favorites prior to the match as anybody could be a winner. When I say anybody it means the competition is only among the top 8 (AUS,ENG,IND,PAK,NZ,SA,SL,WI).Any of the above mentioned team can win a game any given day as the format is too short as the actions/ reactions are limited. I am very impatient at the same time keen to see what a master batsman like you can bring to the table as this is the first time you are taking part in a T20 WC. Whatever be the result you are a class apart and T20 is not the platform to judge a player of your caliber.

  • ansar on September 20, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    if zimb did same fielding like against SL they gona face same result....if they hold catches ...then can hold match for some time away to SA victory.

  • Subash on September 20, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    @Pappu_bhai: Dont mind some of the people in here. I agree with what you mean: Bala is good bowler, in the steyn calibre becoz he is swing the ball away from right hander. We ALL saw what Bala can do in IPL!!! He bowled very well and won tournment!! Steyn got smashed by AB de villiers and other batsmans. There we understand who better bowler. But have to say Steyn is better in tests coz Bala dont get chance.

  • Richard on September 20, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Pappu_bhai is one funny guy! Laugh? I almost wet myself! Where can I buy a DVD of the entire series of him?

  • Nicholas on September 20, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    I can't believe so many comments have spawned from another poster, instead of this article itself! Anyway, all I want to say is: (1) 20 overs isn't a very long time, so anything can happen in this format! (2) Be complacent at your own peril against these 'so-called' minnows. The previous games thus far have not all been "cakewalks" despite the apparent gulf between teams on paper, have they?

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Dudes, Balaji played a big hand in KKRs win in this years IPL? what did Steyn do? oh yeah, AB just took him apart, and on some days Sanga and Lehmann thought Rusty Theron was a better bowler. Steyn and Zaheer are good for Test cricket

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