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The Preview by Liam Brickhill
October 21, 2011
Or perhaps that is a little harsh on Zimbabwe. A couple of borderline decisions have gone against them on this tour, and with a little more luck they may well have at least been competitive. But patience is an increasingly rare commodity in a fast-paced sport, and Zimbabwe need something inspirational if they are to rise above this familiar plateau. Brendan Taylor's century on Thursday was apparently not enough, leaving the hosts in serious danger of a second successive series whitewash.
Against Bangladesh they were a team inspired, bristling with a sense of belief against well-known opponents. Pakistan's own flaws and inconsistencies helped give the impression that, even though they might not win, Zimbabwe could well slug it out with some of bigger teams. New Zealand have given them no such quarter, however, and have no reason to expect that Saturday's match will be any different.
The one danger for the visitors is, should Zimbabwe somehow hustle a few wickets, a middle order with little game time under their belts might struggle to assert themselves. That's hardly the most pressing of problems, though, and the feeling that this series is nothing more than a glorified warm-up for their challenge against a resurgent Australia in December is hard to shake.
In the spotlight
Ross Taylor has faced just five deliveries in the three international matches on this tour so far, and will be itching to fill his boots against an increasingly deflated bowling attack. He will also want to make his mark on his first extended run as the full-fledged New Zealand captain. He needs runs as well as wins to do so.
Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Brendan Taylor (capt), 4 Chamu Chibhabha, 5 Tatenda Taibu, 6 Forster Mutizwa (wk), 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Keegan Meth, 9 Prosper Utseya, 10 Ray Price, 11 Kyle Jarvis
New Zealand have no real cause to tinker with what has proved a winning combination, and it would be a little unfair to re-shuffle their middle order with hardly any of their batsmen having had a good run in the middle. They will, in all likelihood, look to secure the series before experimenting too much with their line-up.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Jesse Ryder 4, Ross Taylor (capt), 5 Kane Williamson/Rob Nicol, 6 James Franklin, 7 Nathan McCullum, 8 Jacob Oram, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Luke Woodcock
Stats and trivia
Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Liam Brickhill
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge