'This isn't a warm-up game' - Johan Botha
South Africa's Twenty20 game against Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein marks the start of the international cricket season in the country and captain Johan Botha, who will take over as Twenty20 leader from Graeme Smith, is not taking his opponents lightly. Friday's contest will be the first Twenty20 fixture between the two teams. Zimbabwe have won just three of their 12 Twenty20 internationals thus far, the biggest scalp being the victory against Australia in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007.
"We're definitely taking Zimbabwe seriously. It's officially the start of our summer and this is no warm-up game," Botha said on the eve of the match. "They're an international side and have beaten some big teams in the past, so we'll still have to play pretty well.
"When teams are regarded as underdogs, they are dangerous. If one guy gets 80 off 50 balls or if one of their bowlers takes three or four wickets, it puts us under pressure."
Botha has led South Africa in eight ODIs and five Twenty20 internationals. Graeme Smith's decision to step down from Twenty20 captaincy in August paved the way for Botha to assume the role on a full-time basis, and both will feature in Friday's contest. "Graeme obviously has a lot of experience and it's nice to have someone like that in your team," Botha said. "If things get tough, he's always available for me, so as far as I'm concerned it's a good thing he didn't just stop and go away.
"As captain, I'll just try to be myself, do things on the field as I see it and hopefully make the right decisions. In T20 cricket, you want to stay one step ahead, so that's what I'll try and do."
The teams play two Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs in the series.