Zimbabwe v Australia, Tri-series, Harare

Different goals for mismatched sides

The Preview by Firdose Moonda

August 24, 2014

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

Monday, August 25, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0730GMT)


Michael Clarke goes through his fitness test ahead of the tri-series, Harare, August 24, 2014
Michael Clarke underwent a fitness test on his hamstring before being ruled out of the first match © AFP
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After a week of playing a fourth-ranked ODI team that has subsequently been bumped up to third, what is the last thing the bottom-ranked side (at least as far as Full Members are concerned) want to do? Play the No.1s. But Zimbabwe know that international cricket is more about what they have to do rather than what they want to, and taking on both Australia and South Africa is what they will spend the next four matches doing.

At least it will bring to 11 the number of ODIs they would have played in six weeks - a significant number to have a proper idea of where they stand as their preparations continue for next year's World Cup. The harsh reality is that Zimbabwe may not like where that is unless their fortune changes in this series.

Not only did they squander a series lead to share spoils with an Associate member - Afghanistan - but they were also thoroughly worked over by South Africa. For now, they do not show any signs of forcing their way into the final of the upcoming tri-series. They will remain hopeful that if all three of their departments click and click better than they have in recent times, they can cause upsets but will likely have to set mini targets, such as reaching scores over 250 or bowling sides out, as goals for the series.

Australia will not play any similar games within games. Michael Clarke is after a trophy - despite being ruled out of the first game with injury* - and he is unlikely to allow matters to meander in the way South Africa sometimes do. Australia have not played ODIs since their January series against England, but one can expect ruthlessness and aggression from them, even though some of it may be cleverly disguised as experimentation. From the No.1 ranked side in the world, there can be nothing less.

Form guide

Zimbabwe LLLLL (last five completed games, most recent first)
Australia WLWWW

In the spotlight

A whitewash at the hands of South Africa was not entirely unexpected but the progressive regression of the Zimbabwe players will put the focus on their coach Stephen Mangongo to see how he handles their recovery. Mangongo was one of the driving forces behind the players being swapped around against South Africa, so much so, that Zimbabwe's top-order has become unpredictable and unstable and the team lop-sided. The lower-order contributes more runs but lacks wicket-taking bite when it's needed most. How Mangongo strategises around this will be key for Zimbabwe over the next two weeks.

Mitchell Marsh has shown great potential ever since captaining Australia to the Under-19 World Cup title in 2009-10 but his opportunities in national colours have so far been limited. He will add to his tally of four ODIs during this series and with Shane Watson injured, it provides a terrific chance for Marsh to audition for a more long-term all-round role. He enters the series with some encouraging form behind him, including 211 in a first-class match against India A last month followed by 11 wickets at 20.00 in the quadrangular one-day tournament that followed.

Team news

Zimbabwe have named a 22-man squad for the series and it includes Brendan Taylor, who is expected to return to the No. 4 position after being dramatically dropped for the final ODI against South Africa last week. Sikandar Raza may return to open with Richmond Mutumbami with Hamilton Masakadza coming in at No.3. Test seamer Tinashe Panyangara made his return against South Africa after being rested following his Test workload and could be joined by Tendai Chatara which will leave Zimbabwe with a question over who to use as a lower-order allrounder. Teenager Luke Jongwe is one option, Shingi Masakadza is another. They may also bench Prosper Utseya as he awaits testing over his action and give legspinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi another chance.

Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Sikandar Raza, 2 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Luke Jongwe/Shingi Masakadza 8 Prosper Utseya/Tafadzwa Kamungozi, 9 John Nyumbu, 10 Tendai Chatara,11 Tinashe Panyangara

With David Warner out of the series on paternity leave and Clarke unable to overcome a hamstring problem, Phillip Hughes would have hoped for an opportunity to translate his A-team form into success on the international stage. However, he found himself named 12th man when Australia announced their team in advance*, with Darren Lehmann saying they had "opted to go with the spin option of Nathan Lyon along with the extra allrounder to add further depth to our batting". Quite how they will line up, with only one genuine opener in Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh coming in to an experimental middle order, remains to be seen.

Australia: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 George Bailey (capt), 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 James Faulkner, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Kane Richardson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Nathan Lyon.

Pitch and conditions

The action moves back to Harare Sports Club which has had almost two weeks rest after the Test between Zimbabwe and South Africa earlier in the month. The surfaces can be expected to be a little more lively than Bulawayo's slow and sometimes turning strips, with a bit of juice for the quicks in the morning. Hot sunshine should flatten the pitch out later in the day when runs will be plentiful. Zimbabwe has leapfrogged spring and stepped straight into summer with temperatures approaching 30 degrees.

Stats and trivia

  • Zimbabwe have only defeated Australia once in the 28 ODIs they have played against them. That was in their first match at the World Cup in June 1983 when Zimbabwe won a tense affair by 13 runs as Duncan Fletcher bowled them to a historic win.
  • The last time these two teams met each other was at the 2011 World Cup. Before that, they had not played an ODI against each other since 2004.
  • Brad Haddin made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2001, before any of the current Zimbabwe squad were playing international cricket.

Quotes

"It doesn't intimidate me. Coaching does not intimidate me at all. Records are meant to be broken. It's a new game, it's a new day, it's a new chapter. It's XI versus XI and you have to respect your opposition."
Speaking before the one-day series against South Africa, Zimbabwe's coach Stephen Mangongo said he was unafraid of his side taking on two of the best teams in the world

"Michael had a fitness test at training today and unfortunately hasn't come through that well enough to be available for selection in game one. He will continue intensive treatment on his hamstring and we'll monitor his progress ahead of game two on Wednesday."
Darren Lehmann hopes to have Clarke back soon

*August 24, 17.30 GMT: Story updated to reflect news of Michael Clarke's failed fitness test

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by vis0121 on (August 25, 2014, 6:53 GMT)

@Scott if you saw the team yesterday I think they where a bowler light.Johnson can be all over the place when he did not play for some time.the team that is shown today a lot better regarding the bowlers.but a lot of allrounders. my team with Clark out: Finch,Hughes,Bailey,Haddin,Marsh,Maxwell,Faulkner,Johnson,Starc,Richardson,Lyon.

Posted by millsy24 on (August 25, 2014, 6:33 GMT)

Is the captain still one of the selectors on away tours? I know Hohns is there, Boof will be another one and I am fairly sure the captain also acts as selector. That's what I find interesting. Yesterday Boof said that Hughes will open with Finch if Clarke was ruled out. Today, Clarke gets ruled out and Bailey takes over as captain and now Hughes is not selected.

Posted by Biggus on (August 25, 2014, 6:30 GMT)

Well, I'm officially confused as well. I've always had my reservations about Phil Hughes but the guy has been making a mountain of runs and you're supposed to pick someone when that happens. Anyway...........I'm with @dunger.bob, Woo Hoo, we're finally going to get some cricket. I need cricket to watch now that I've hung up my boots just like I need oxygen to breathe. The season is nearly upon us..........I can hear strains of George Harrison's 'Here comes the sun' in my mind, let the games commence!

Posted by Swan_Draught on (August 25, 2014, 5:40 GMT)

@xtrafalgarx if we're using First Class records for ODI selections then how does Finch get a game? Averaged less than 20 with the bat in each of the last three shield seasons

Posted by D-Train on (August 25, 2014, 5:30 GMT)

Makes no sense leaving Hughes out. Lehmann said himself the blokes are rusty, yet here's a guy who's been playing lots of cricket the last two months and is in great form. Big mistake. Having said that it won't matter against Zimbabwe.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (August 25, 2014, 4:36 GMT)

I understand that the Marsh brothers have talent, but by gee, Lehmann always seems to want to push them into the side even when their form doesn't warrant it. Yes, Mitch Marsh has had a good pre-season and started well last year, but he still averages 28 in FC cricket with only two hundreds. If that's the future of Australian cricket, god help us.

I'm not saying he isn't talented, but for me he needs another three to four YEARS in domestic cricket before we can be about 85% sure that he will succeed in International cricket. Trying to get him in to the world cup squad in the hope he will be a gun player is a forlorn dream.

Posted by Swan_Draught on (August 25, 2014, 3:59 GMT)

If Finch were Captain we'd have 9 bowling options!

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (August 25, 2014, 1:03 GMT)

Aus should W toss and bat 1st. Thats the only way we are going to have a game of reasonable length.Or this 'odi' game could be all over in 40 overs,not worth the money paid by specs hoping for a full days game.

Posted by CricketChat on (August 25, 2014, 1:00 GMT)

To all my friends who like Zim thrashings thinking it will help them become better. SA thrashing is just done. Here comes another.. Enjoy it!

Posted by bren19 on (August 25, 2014, 0:07 GMT)

@vis0121 - I agree in that the Australian team always looks a bowler light to me when Lyon is named in the squad

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