South Africa look to seal series
Sunday October 17, Potchefstroom
Start time 10:00am (0800 GMT)
The Big Picture
This series is still alive, but unless Zimbabwe can pull together to fight in unison South Africa's superior batting firepower will continue to prove the difference between two sides whose bowlers have collectively been made to toil hard on a succession of featherbeds. Where Zimbabwe have provided promise, South Africa have more often than not delivered on their potential and played more effectively as a team; their shots travelling that much further, their seamers' lines that much tighter.
That is to take nothing away from the quality of some of the individual efforts from the visitors. The past history of Zimbabwe cricket's voyages south of the Limpopo is littered with a succession of one-sided whompings, and while the most recent excursion is still winless there has been far less embarrassment this time round.
South Africa's batting, in the absence of Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher, is in a state of flux as a generational changing of the guard takes hold. But the results so far suggest good health - notwithstanding the disappointingly weak nature of the opposition's attack - and that department's future seems to be in good hands.
The back-up bowlers have been less convincing, however, and the fielding is still carrying a tinge of early-season rustiness. Some hard work is no doubt being put in to rectify these issues, but conditions in Potchefstroom are likely to favour the batsmen once more and the hosts' relatively inexperienced seam attack will continue to feel the pressure. South Africa's bowlers remains a cut above Zimbabwe's, however, and if their batsmen continue to dine on the visitors' tame offerings then the series may well be decided on Sunday.
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In the midst of his defiant century at Bloemfontein, Brendan Taylor took his tally of international runs in the last 12 months past 1,000, across formats. That knock was his third ODI hundred in 24 games during that time - suggesting that Taylor is in a rich vein of form - and if he and one or two of Zimbabwe's batsmen can perform in the same game then South Africa could face their sternest test of the series.
Earmarked early in his career for his destructive potential, Albie Morkel has had a quiet time in international cricket of late. His last 10 ODIs have yielded just 147 runs - including 50 in one innings against Zimbabwe last November - and he shone only briefly in the midst of a disappointing South African campaign at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean earlier this year. However, his bowling in Bloemfontein was steady, if unspectacular, and if Morkel can settle at the crease his undoubted ability could lead to a demolition of Zimbabwe's unproven seamers.
Pitch and conditionsEven this early in the season, a day game in Potchefstroom means just one thing: runs. The ground will also hold bad memories for Zimbabwe as the last time these two sides met here South Africa racked up an enormous 418 for 5, Mark Boucher spanking 10 sixes in an unbeaten 68-ball 147. It could also be a hot day in the field for both sides, with sunny, clear skies expected.
South Africa are likely to retain the same XI that won on Friday. The one change they may think about is bringing in fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe in place of Charl Langeveldt.
South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 JP Duminy, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 David Miller, 7 Johan Botha, 8 Ryan McLaren, 9 Wayne Parnell, 10 Rusty Theron 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Sean Williams' place could be under the scanner after his indifferent performance in the first ODI, with Craig Ervine a possible replacement. Ed Rainsford could also make the final XI, in place of Chris Mpofu
Zimbabwe (possible) 1 Brendan Taylor, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Chamu Chibhabha, 4 Sean Williams/Craig Ervine, 5 Grant Flower, 6 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 7 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya, 10 Shingirai Masakadza, 11 Chris Mpofu/Ed Rainsford
Stats and trivia
- South Africa have never lost a ODIs at Potchefstroom. In six matches, the closest they came to a defeat was a tie against Australia in 2002.
- Grant Flower is Zimbabwe's second highest ODI run-getter and is 237 runs short of his brother Andy's tally.
- Hashim Amla's one-day average of 56.96 is the second highest among all batsmen who have played a minimum of 20 innings
- In the last 12 months, Brendan Taylor has averaged 48.15 in one-day cricket, scoring 963 runs including three hundreds and six fifties.
"At the moment we don't have [Steyn and Morkel], but it's an opportunity for guys to still get their skills right. When those guys are back and fit these guys will be looking to stake claims, so it's important that they show their worth."
Graeme Smith has urged the newer members of his side to make the most of their opportunities in the absence of the big guns
"When we arrived here we wanted to be positive and take our cricket to the next level, and we're moving in the right direction."
Despite a winless tour, Elton Chigumbura insists his team are making good progress
Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo