Zimbabwe looking to upset South Africa
Zimbabwe A will look for inspiration from last month's T20 series win as they look to stop an unbeaten South Africa A in the final of the tri-series on Saturday.
South Africa A have been dominant in the tournament, largely due to some responsible middle-order batting. In all four of their league games, there has been at least a batsman who has looked to bat throughout the innings to try to eliminate any slip-up. Colin Ingram, the highest run-getter in the series with 179 runs, right-hand batsman Reeza Hendricks who follows him with 163 runs, captain Faf du Plessis and opener Richard Levi have all played their part.
In the third match, the only tight game South Africa have played in the tournament, No. 3 batsman Ingram and No. 9 Rory Kleinveldt managed to steer their side to a tight victory when the chase looked improbable at 114 for 5, and later 182 for 7, chasing 243. The match, according to Zimbabwe commentator Dean du Plessis, could have been won by the hosts. "Had Zimbabwe A held on to their catches and fielded better, the outcome may have been different," he said in a Zimbabwe cricket media release. The win could have meant three wins in the tournament for them, and the same for South Africa.
While batting has been the advantage for South Africa, Zimbabwe's bowling has been the best of the three teams. Left-arm fast bowler Brian Vitori has been the most prolific wicket-taker with nine wickets, including a spell of 5 for 37 against Sri Lanka A on July 14. Elton Chigumbura, who has played 142 ODIs for Zimbabwe, took a match-winning spell of 6 for 24 in his second game of the tri-series, against Sri Lanka A on Thursday.
South Africa have the benefit of the experience of players who have played for the national side like Wayne Parnell, who took 3 for 10 in their opening match in Harare, and captain du Plessis, but the hosts can topple the favourites if top-order batting performs.
"Yes, there has been some good bowling at times, but all the batsmen have been very reluctant to express themselves and to up the tempo," Dean du Plessis said. "Strong teams such as South Africa are very good at tightening the screws while applying pressure, but they are also only human and once you take the game to them by playing attacking and aggressive cricket, they will begin to feel the pressure like any other team."
Zimbabwe have defeated Sri Lanka twice in the tournament, including the convincing eight-wicket victory on Thursday courtesy Chigumbura. Having already eliminated one of the stronger teams, Zimbabwe will hope to add another big scalp in the final.