Can Zimbabwe stay competitive for longer?
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0730 GMT)
The hypothesis is, the shorter the format the smaller the gulf between teams, but it has not applied in Zimbabwe's case. They had the spirit to spar with South Africa's seamers in the one-off Test, when their bowlers were disciplined and their batsmen determined, but were blown away in the first ODI, when they lacked bite and basics. The realisation they lost that game in the space of 23 overs is what will hurt the hosts most.
Zimbabwe conceded 120 in the last 11 overs, which allowed South Africa to exceed the par score of around 280, and then crumbled to 35 for 3 in the first 12 overs of the chase. That period apart, Zimbabwe managed to drag South Africa's run-rate back after Quinton de Kock's striking start, and then Hamilton Masakadza and Sean Williams showed what could be achieved with a little application.
The next step for the hosts will be to try and increase the length of the good period and shrink those 23 overs in which they got almost everything wrong. That will require effort from every member of the side, particularly Elton Chigumbura, who will have to be more assertive as captain.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers' tour could also do with livening up but he has none of the worries of his counterpart. His top order did one half of the job in the first ODI and his bowling attack the other. Though some areas - like spin bowling - needed tightening, the chief thought on de Villiers' mind will be that the series can be sealed and South Africa could have earned a trophy before Tuesday ends.
Form guide(last five completed games, most recent first)
South Africa WWLWW
In the spotlight
Brendan Taylor will no longer be keeping wicket because the coach Stephen Mangongo would like a "specialist" in the job. Because Taylor is no longer the ODI captain, he has been completely unburdened to concentrate on his batting. He got himself out in the first match against South Africa and also had an inconsistent run against Afghanistan, when he made one half-century and three middling scores. Taylor will be Zimbabwe's key batsman at the World Cup and there is no better time for him to find form than against a team like South Africa.
The strength of South Africa's top order did not allow David Miller an opportunity to play a part in the first match. Miller had similar issues in Sri Lanka and is facing the reality that the better the top four get the less time he may have at the crease. He will have to make an impact in short and sharp bursts while finishing an innings. If Miller gets it right, South Africa could mount totals far too large for Zimbabwe to scale.
The questions regarding Zimbabwe's line-up start at the top. Vusi Sibanda was dropped during the series against Afghanistan and if Sikandar Raza is fully recovered from his broken thumb, he may open with Richmond Mutumbami. In the pace department, Shingi Masakadza may sit out after being both expensive and wicketless. Brian Vitori would be the automatic choice if his ankle niggle has healed.
Zimbabwe (likely) 1 Vusi Sibanda/Sikandar Raza, 2 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Luke Jongwe 8 Neville Madziva, 9 John Nyumbu, 10 Prosper Utseya, 11 Brian Vitori
AB de Villiers indicated he would prefer to use an unchanged XI to win the series and save experimentation for the final ODI.
South Africa: (likely) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 JP Duminy, 5 AB de Villiers (capt), 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Kyle Abbott, 10 Aaron Phangiso, 11 Imran Tahir
Pitch an conditions
The Bulawayo surface was sluggish for the first ODI and spinners were able to slow the run rate for large swathes of it. Though the second game will be played on a different pitch, a similar pattern can be expected, with scoring laboured but far from impossible against substantial turn. The weather is expected to be warmer, with clear skies and a high of 24 degrees.
Stats and trivia
- Of the batsmen Hashim Amla has had at least 15 partnerships with, his second-highest average is with Quinton de Kock. Amla and de Kock have put on 963 runs - with four century and three fifty partnerships - in 15 innings at 64.20, an average that is only behind his 81.77 with de Villiers.
- The stats are overwhelmingly in favour of bowling first at Queens Sports Club. Teams have bowled 35 times after winning the toss and won 22 of those games, while sides that chose to bat have won nine out of 24 games.
"This is a 300 wicket. If we can restrict South Africa to less than 300, we would have done a good job."Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura predicts another high-scoring game
"300 was above par. There were thoughts of 250 at one time and even Hashim said he didn't think we would get to 300. If the wicket looks similar, we will bat first again."AB de Villiers is not sure there are big scores in the Bulawayo pitch
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent