Zimbabwe v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare September 3, 2014

Zimbabwe chase another glory day


Match facts

Thursday, September 4, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0730GMT)

Big Picture

Zimbabwe forced the one-way traffic into a u-turn last week when they beat Australia to put themselves in contention for the final. That possibility faded two days later when Australia beat South Africa by a bonus point to leave the neighbours to tussle it out for the remaining spot, although it is South Africa's to lose.

Zimbabwe will have to beat South Africa and beat them properly. Not only will they need a bonus point but their margin of victory will have to be big enough to see their net run-rate balloon beyond what may be deemed realistic. Instead, the hosts may have to content themselves with smaller success of simply competing with and challenging South Africa.

It has been a tough three weeks of fifty-over cricket for Zimbabwe. They have toggled with various combinations, dealt with suspensions and injuries and have been trapped in a tunnel of defeat until the light came on on Sunday. That one match showed Zimbabwe's promise and the value of regular game time. This could be their last international fixture until they tour Bangladesh in October so going out with a bang will be on their minds.

South Africa will have more immediate matters to take care of. Their plans were thrown slightly off track with the loss to Australia, so they can no longer use the final game for experimentation but rather for practice in must-win situations. Victory is not essential for them but it would significantly ease the passage into Saturday's final, where they can test themselves in a pressure-cooker situation ahead of next year's World Cup.

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)
Zimbabwe WLLLL
South Africa LWWWW

In the spotlight

Zimbabwe's ability to play the complete game has only been on display once in the tournament. The test for them is to see if they can do it again and they will need their batting in particular to pull its weight. Zimbabwe's attack has done a good containing job throughout but their batsmen have been prone to collapses. If both can work as well as they did two days ago, Zimbabwe will be happy to see consistency at last.

The two main concerns for Russell Domingo after the defeat to Australia would have been the recurring problems: South Africa's middle order and their death bowling. Neither may get the opportunity to show improvement in a fixture which could take on a completely different complexion to their previous one but if they do the spotlight will be on JP Duminy and David Miller to see whether they can turn starts into something more significant. The injury to Ryan McLaren* only exacerbates the troubles with their death bowling.

Team news

It would be cruel to leave out any of the men who beat Australia on Sunday and although Zimbabwe have tinkered with their team in every match, they could go with the same XI. Barring a change in seamer, no-one's place should be under threat.

Zimbabwe: (likely) 1 Sikandar Raza, 2 Tino Mawoyo, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (wk), 5 Sean Williams, 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 John Nyumbu, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Donald Tiripano

Had South Africa been 100% certain of their place in the final, they would have used this match for experimentation but they do not have that luxury. The would have liked to go in with their first-choice XI but the hairline fracture to McLaren means they are likely to pick either Wayne Parnell or Kyle Abbott. Morne Morkel could also sit out if his shoulder injury flares up.

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

Pitch and conditions

Strips are being reused and the one on which the final round-robin match will be played is certain to have featured in the tournament before. AB de Villiers has already described the surfaces as tired and Faf du Plessis said South Africa expect a sluggish and spinning pitch, which suggests another session of laboured run-scoring and low run-rates. At least there is less of a chance of any of the players suffering from heat-induced cramp. Temperatures in Harare have dipped from the high 20s into the low ones which should make for more comfortable conditions all round.

Stats and trivia

  • Prosper's Utseya's five-for the last time these teams met has made him his country's highest wicket-taker against South Africa with 19 scalps, leapfrogging Heath Streak, who has 17.

  • Both Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers have three centuries against Zimbabwe while Brendan Taylor is the batsman with the most number of hundreds at Harare Sports Club - also three.


"I think the guys know that they still have a job to do and I can't see them growing any big heads before they have improved. I would like us to improve on our rankings I think that if we work hard, with the experience that these guys have, I am sure we can improve on that."
Stephen Mangongo says his players are level-headed before their do-or-die match.

"We feel that Zimbabwe is a threat now. They play well in these conditions and the prepare wickets that suit them. We expect a slow-turner in the next match. We need to beat them now. I don't think it's time to rest players."
Faf du Plessis said South Africa are planning to present their best-side to Zimbabwe for the final group stage match

* September 3, 2014 4.40pm GMT This story was updated to include news of Ryan McLaren's injury

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sathesh Krishnan on September 4, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    @Greatest_Game Faf averaged 27 by batting at #5 or #6 until this series. He was moved to #3 and his batting average has jumped from 27 to 34 and is surely to touch 40 soon if he continues in the same vein. Do you think Faf is an awful batsman too? Miller is pure class. He will prove someday. We should wait and watch!!

  • Mohamed on September 4, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    @Pakisthan_Fan There is no reason to talk about Ind here. Beter look for your team is they capable to score atleast 250 atleast any of those matches.

  • Android on September 4, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    Sa don't have a good spinner

  • Anver on September 4, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    I wish ZIM upset SA & qualify for FINAL..... home crowd is with them & they almost did it in the 1st outing against them, so any thing can happen !!! anyway good luck to both !!!

  • Kasun on September 4, 2014, 5:15 GMT

    This Zimbabwe team can beat India in a ODI series.

  • Dummy on September 4, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    I am always surprise by the fact that sa has a good bowling line up but what mess up me is that why don't they try Yorker in depth over rather than going for short pitch or pace only,at least try to to ball slower ball too.best of luck for today's game,hope to see your improvement

  • dylan on September 4, 2014, 4:03 GMT

    @jamie moneghan............ delange is serious express pace and the fastest bowler we have in sa at the moment and capable of cranking it into the 150 kh's, he gets good bounce but not as exaggerated as morkel, but delange bowls a very heavy ball which with his pace and bounce makes him truly unpleasant to face. He does not however get good shape on the ball in his delivery and hence does not strike the seam as often or swing it very effectively..... hoping he can work on his release because then he really will be a handfull

  • David on September 4, 2014, 3:37 GMT

    @ Sathesh_Krishnan thinks miller is a fine batsman. @ Sathesh_Krishnan is as wrong as wrong can be. Miller is an AWFUL batsman - he is a slogger. We are talking about International ODIs here, not franchise T20 hit & miss club leagues played on specially prepared roads.

    Since the Sri Lanka tour in 2013 he has batted in 18 innings, averaging 24.83. In twelve (66.66%) of those innings he was dismissed, and averaged 15.16! In six (33.33%) of those innings he was not dismissed, and averaged 19.33.

    His career ave is 30.53 after 44 inning batted. he was not out in 14, or 31.81% of those innings. Do you see the pattern here. His batting average is bloated by not-out innings, and when broken down it is clear that he does not perform on the international stage.

    To put it plainly, he is a bad batsman, and just a flat track bully. A few big IPL innings do not make an international ODI player. Period!

  • Sathesh Krishnan on September 4, 2014, 3:22 GMT

    De Lange is excellent talent. He should be slotted into the squad straight away. SA also should bring back Chris Morris once he is fit. He will be much better than McLaren or Philander in all rounder category. Morris bowls 140+ easily and is a strike bowler. SA have plenty of great talent in them. Donno why they couldnt select right combination that can win them most of the games.

  • greig on September 4, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    @JamieM De Lange bowled with a lot of pace in his first game back. Compared to the other SA quicks he was noticable faster and the batsmen were uncomfortable. For me he is a far better option than Morkel because of his aggression and accuracy. I think the selectors are wrapping him in cottonwool for this series but we will see him in the ODI games in Oz for sure. The tracks there will suit him more too.

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