Hosts look to shake off rust
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Start time 14.30 pm (12.30GMT)
The opening match went according to form and rankings, but South Africa still need to iron out a few wrinkles ahead of the bigger and sterner task against England. They are viewing this short series as a warm-up and for two thirds of the match in Benoni they performed impressively, but Zimbabwe didn't fold meekly thanks to Tatenda Taibu's fine century and South Africa will need to be at top gear going into the first Twenty20 against England on November 13.
England have also issued the war cry after thumping wins against the Eagles and Warriors and Mickey Arthur has underlined the importance of being at "full strength" by next week. Albie Morkel and the fresh pair of Alviro Petersen, debutant Ryan McLaren all impressed during in Benoni and Arthur will have taken note of the performances as assesses his bench strength. JP Duminy is set to return from injury and Jacques Kallis may play as a specialist batsman so there is no shortage of top-order power.
The promise that Zimbabwe had shown after the sweeping changes in administrative personnel and the creation of new domestic competitions seems to have been short lived, a fact nailed by five consecutive ODI defeats. However, Taibu's performance and the 188-run stand with Stuart Matsikenyeri has given them something to cling to.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa - WLWLL
Zimbabwe - LLLLL
While Kallis and Duminy look certain starters, having recovered from a side strain and shin splints respectively, Wayne Parnell's ankle injury continues to be a worry, making him a doubt for the two Twenty20s against England as well.
South Africa (possible): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Graeme Smith (capt), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Ryan McLaren, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Charl Langeveldt
With Chris Mpofu going for plenty of runs in the first ODI the visitors might want to rethink their seam options by picking Kyle Jarvis.
Zimbabwe (possible) 1 Hamilton Masakdza, 2 Mark Vermeulen, 3 Brendan Taylor, 4 Chamu Chibhabha, 5 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya (capt), 10 Ray Price, 11 Kyle Jarvis
Watch out for
JP Duminy has recovered from his shin injury and has been cleared to resume full activity for this match. Given his impressive showing with the Cape Cobras in the Champions League Twenty20, emerging as the highest scorer with 224 runs at 112.00, he will be raring to go in the 50-over format, where he has managed just two fifties this year. Considering the opposition, it may well be time for his maiden ODI century as well.
Albie Morkel certainly lived up to his billing as a smash hitter, clubbing 50 off 39 balls in the last match. But it will be his bowling which will need to improve if he is to cement his place in the side as a very capable allrounder.
How pleasing it is to see Tatenda Taibu back on the international stage. Even though he missed the greater part of the ODI series in Bangladesh, he showed his intent with a fluent hundred in Benoni. The innings showed he was keen to emerge from the negativity surrounding his run-ins with Zimbabwe Cricket, and with wicketkeeping responsibilities to boot, he has a pivotal role to play.
Stats and trivia
- South Africa have an overwhelming 25-2 advantage in head-to-head matches against Zimbabwe. In Centurion, they have a 66.67% win record, winning 16 of the 24 matches they played.
- South Africa hold the record for the highest score on the ground, posting 392 for 6 against Pakistan in February 2007. Scores of 300 or more have occurred in nine matches, twice when South Africa played England in September this year during the Champions Trophy.
"We did well because at one stage I did not think we would make 100 runs. I hope my players learn from the experience and do even better on Tuesday."
Prosper Utseya wants his team to build on the late fightback
Judhajit Basu is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo