Sunday, November 8, 2009
Start time 10.00am (8.00GMT)
After South Africa's early-season flop in the ICC Champions Trophy, a short two-match series against Zimbabwe gives them a chance to warm-up before facing England in the main event of their summer. Although the home side are missing a few big names - Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell are recovering from injuries - the opposition shouldn't provide too many problems, but the contest will provide a useful experience before tougher challenges.
The Champions Trophy failure was another blot for the team at global events, but South Africa still have an impressive one-day pedigree. They will take the opportunity to look at a few of their fringe players against Zimbabwe and strong performances could lead to more rewards down the line. The experienced pair of Herschelle Gibbs and Makhaya Ntini have both been dropped as the selectors begin to plan for the future.
It was the bowling and middle-order hitting that caused concerns during the Champions Trophy. There is pressure on Albie Morkel to live up the hype over his striking power and provide more success with the ball.
Zimbabwe enter this series after a 4-1 defeat in Bangladesh which included a dismal collapse to 44 all out. Their game is slowly starting to find its feet after a hugely troubled period, but for each step forward there are likely to be plenty backwards in the short term. Making South Africa work for victory would be counted as a success in this match
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa - LWLLW
Zimbabwe - LLLLW
South Africa have announced their line-up a day ahead of the match with Ryan McLaren named for his international debut following the end of his Kolpak time in county cricket. There are also recalls for the hard-hitting Alvrio Petersen, swing bowler Charl Langeveldt and left-arm quick Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
South Africa 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Mark Boucher (wk), 5 Alvrio Petersen, 6 Albie Morkel, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Charl Langeveldt.
Captain Prosper Utseya injured his ankle in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe missed his bowling skill so his fitness will be closely monitored. Zimbabwe are likely to need more pace options than they used in Bangladesh which could mean a recall for Kyle Jarvis who has made a promising start to his career.
Zimbabwe: (possible) 1 Mark Vermeulen, 2 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 3 Brendan Taylor (wk), 4 Elton Chigumbura, 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 7 Chamu Chibhabha, 8 Ray Price, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Kyle Jarvis 11 Chris Mpofu.
Watch out for...
Ryan McLaren has waited a long time for his international chance. It almost came last year, but he had to withdraw from the squad to face Kenya and Bangladesh because of his Kolpak status with Kent in England. Now he has left that behind and given South Africa another crack. McLaren became eligible on October 1 and the selectors have wasted little time drafting him in. He gives the ball a strong thump and came to the fore during the recent Champions League when two late boundaries forced a tie for the Eagles against Sussex after which the Eagles won the one-over eliminator. His wicket-to-wicket bowling has also proved effective in Twenty20 and he claimed a hat-trick at the 2007 Finals Day at Edgbaston.
Zimbabwe didn't have a particularly happy time in Bangladesh, but Brendan Taylor ended the series in fine style with an unbeaten 118 off 125 balls - his maiden ODI hundred. He is a key part of the top order as it develops for the future and a possible return to Test level. Taylor is capable of dominating attacks and is also important in balancing the side with his role as wicketkeeper.
Stats and trivia
South Africa have an overwhelming 24-2 advantage in head-to-head matches against Zimbabwe.
The last time the sides met was for a three-match series in Zimbabwe in 2007, when the visitors eased to a 3-0 victory.
"It is a dream come true. It has been a long process to get there and I am really looking forward to this opportunity. It is lovely to be part of the team and I hope to contribute in as many areas as possible."
Ryan McLaren reflects on his international call-up