Zimbabwe v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare August 28, 2014

Troubled Zimbabwe seek improvement


Match facts

Friday, August 29, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0730GMT)

Big Picture

If South Africa and Australia judged their relative strengths on the manner in which each of them beat Zimbabwe, Australia would have come out on top. Although South Africa whitewashed their neighbours, their approach was far gentler than Australia's merciless manner in racking up Harare Sports Club's highest total and bowling Zimbabwe out for their lowest score in a year But that is not how South Africa and Australia's muscle was measured and when it mattered, AB de Villiers' men turned it on.

Now that they have shown what they are capable of, will they return to the big brother role they have sometimes adopted against Zimbabwe? Or will they go for the jugular, to prove that they can? The return of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel may be key in deciding South African tactics because the former, particularly, is unlikely to hold back.

Steyn's presence will be on Zimbabwe's mind even if they are not sent video clips of his previous performances because they faced him earlier in the month in the one-off Test but they also have a lot more to think about. Team morale is on the wane while disciplinary crackdowns are enforced with vigour. A curfew, limitations on what they can consume, who they can see and what they can share with each other on group messaging services are just some of the measures Stephen Mangongo has put in place as part of his drive towards professionalism.

The coach cannot be faulted for zoning in on hard work; likewise his team cannot be questioned over their willingness to put in hours of preparation - they did so even on a rare off day - but their execution is lacking. Whether it a result of flagging self-belief or a reflection of the gulf between the top teams and the bottom one is not clear but the only way Zimbabwe can answer the mushrooming questions about their ability is to show some improvement and show it quickly.

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)
Zimbabwe LLLLL
South Africa WWWWW

In the spotlight

The surfaces have not given much for the bowlers to make use of throughout the series, but Zimbabwe's attack will still be under scrutiny because of their inexperience. With Tinashe Panyangara suspended for the rest of the series, Tendai Chatara will likely lead the attack but will need support from his captain, Chigumbura, the spinners, especially Prosper Utseya, and whoever joins him in the seam department. Although Zimbabwe have options, none of the rest of the bowlers have had a regular run to develop the confidence needed to take on the best.

After the high intensity duel against Australia, it may be difficult for AB de Villiers to get his men up for a much lower-profile clash against a side they have already beaten three times in the last week. That's why South Africa's attitude will be so important. They have been careful to keep saying they expect Zimbabwe to upset someone at some stage but will still have to guard against complacency creeping in.

Team news

Zimbabwe will have to turn to one of the younger members of their bowling pack to fill in for Panyangara with any one of Luke Jongwe, Shingi Masakadza, Neville Madziva, Cuthburt Musoko or Brian Vitori coming in. Although the batting line-up failed against Australia, Tino Mawoyo should get another opportunity to open with Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura making up the middle order.

Zimbabwe: (likely) 1 Sikandar Raza, 2 Tino Mawoyo, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Richmond Mutumbami, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Luke Jongwe/Shingi Masakadza/Neville Madziva, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Cuthburt Musoko/Brian Vitori

After victory over Australia, South Africa may not see any reason to make too many changes except in one area. Wayne Parnell was expensive and could be substituted by Kyle Abbott, who was miserly when he played against Zimbabwe in the bilateral series.

South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell/Kyle Abbott, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

Even when Zimbabwe were not playing, there was almost nothing in the surface for the quick bowlers, which suggests the run-scoring will continue and moisture will be absent. That could see the trend of bowling first bucked at some stage but it may saved for later in the tournament.

Stats and trivia

  • Zimbabwe's longest losing streak in ODI cricket since 2004, when they lost 17 games in succession, was a strong of seven defeats between February 2012 and May 2013. They are currently on a six-match losing run.
  • Imran Tahir has 39 ODI wickets, compared to 40 in Tests. His average in fifty-over cricket is just 17.46 while in the longest format it balloons to 47.17.


Elton Chigumbura used only one word to describe Zimbabwe's performance against Australia and is hopeful his men can put up more of a fight in the rest of the tournament

"A spinner always has a role to play but to be honest, the wickets are pretty good for batsmen."
Imran Tahir expects it to be tough for the tweakers

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    SA should consider DE lange seriously. Miller and Dumminy needed more chances. Looks like a great batting side and Fast pitches in Aus should support them in 2015 WC. Steyn, Morkel, lange, Mclaren and Tahir - part timer likes Dumminy should succeed.

  • Venkata on August 29, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    Well done Faf! Thats more like a Ponting's inns. A perfect #3. AB was fantastic too!

    Now I want SA to promote Miller & JP to 3 & 4 so that they get some runs under their belt as well.

    In the bowling department, surely Parnell has to be replaced.It should be De Lange but they will play Abbott which is better too. Let Parnell play a couple of seasons in County and improve accuracy.

  • Duncan on August 28, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    The problem with a strong top order is that your lower order guys don't get time in the middle, promote Miller and Duminy. What might Miller achieve with some time?

    I actually want to see Lopsy back in the side as a replacement for Parnel, look at the numbers. Is he still recovering from injury or surgery or something?

  • Sathesh Krishnan on August 28, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    SA must send Miller up and create more opportunities for him to showcase his skills. He is too good a batsman to be wasted at #6. He has proved his capabilities in IPL and Ramslam when used up the order. Very skillful player. Faf needed nearly 50 games to stamp his authority and finally his class was proved by promoting him up and giving right chances. Similarly Miller will become a force for Proteas someday. They need to realize his talent and potential. Parnell is with the team for two three years now and he is still inconsistent as always. SA should use that spot for De Lange, Abbott or Philander. Parnell is not very effective. Rest of the team really looks good. Bring in De Lange and Chris Morris when fit. SA will rock then!!

  • R on August 28, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    I said it before and I say it again... SA must give Duminy and Miller more batting time in these matches (against Zimbabwe)... AB is known to slide down the order against weaker teams and might do so again!!!

    As for the bowling, one may see Steyn and Morkel missing one game each vs Zimbabwe in order to fit in Abbott... Parnell is under severe pressure to retain his place after a series of poor performances but may just get a chance against the minnows!!!

  • Shahzad on August 28, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    @UnlimitedLFB i agree with you... parnell has 1 bad game guys he is strike bowler more he play better you get from him.... he is not a permenent member of the squad so give him 2 full series & then you wikk make a change.... Parnell aslo brings verity to the attack & he is an allrounder...

    @TommytuckerSaffa i agree with you for de lange... he has pace which will be very helpful for the wc... & em also a big fan of C.Morris he is recover form his injury so bring him back too...

  • greig on August 28, 2014, 16:52 GMT

    @Shazzy777 You're right, De Lange is not in the squad which is a crime in itself.

    @UnlimitedLFB I know where you are coming from, BUT Parnell has had many opportunities in the team (38 ODIs) and in getting those opportunities, he never took full advantage by Stamping his mark on International cricket. Never made a statement or made himself 'undroppable'. He came onto the scene very young with huge expectations but its seems the airplane never left the runway. Instead we got hot and cold performances with a few chokes mixed in when it came to death bowling. I am over it, just too many flops.

  • Vaughan on August 28, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    Any win over Aus is a valuable win if you are a South African!

  • ZCF on August 28, 2014, 16:16 GMT

    Fare enough Australia smashed him - just as they did most of the others apart from Tahir - but I find it weird that some expect Abbott&McLaren to be more eefective against ZIM than Parnell. I don't buy that. Those are not conclusions arrived at via a cricketing assessment.

    Zimbabwe have struggled with 7 batsmen, so the only solution is to add an extra batsmen. There is absolutely no reason why Williams, Chigumbura, Raza&Hamilton Masakadza cannot combine to bowl 20+ overs. Utseya, Chatara&Vitori making up the main attack. Taylor has been struggling for a little while now so he's under pressure to score some runs, but I agree that Mawoyo has to be retained.

    Mawoyo, Raza, Vusi, Hami, Taylor, Williams, Chigumbura(c), Mutumbami(wk), Vitori, Utseya, Chatara.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    I'm an Sa Fan, I have a theory. Beyond a reasonable doubt SA and Aus will play in this final. So what if Sa win both their round robin games and Aus win the final? mmmmm.... BMT for Aus then? another "important game" that Sa lose? I think out of this whole series that's maybe the only thing SA and Aus can really take from it. Can Sa win a final? or will history repeat it self? even though it's not a proper final as in a tournament... Predictions anyone?

  • No featured comments at the moment.