Centurion shoot out looms for place in final

Centurion - In the best Western traditions it is shaping up as the 'final showdown', this time though England meet Zimbabwe in the Centurion corral tomorrow with the winner take all along with a place in the triangular series final against South Africa on Saturday.

Zimbabwe still have a 6-3 advantage after the drubbing Nasser Hussain's tourists gave them in Kimberley nine days ago, but if whispers coming from the Zimbabwe camp are accurate, they are hiding a host of injuries.

Well that is the grapevine talk, which could be a fancy smokescreen to throw England off the trail as it were with Nasser Hussain still rankled at the second last over defeat by South Africa in the series. The first at Newlands and the second in East London.

England decamped swiftly enough from East London on Saturday and are now in Johannesburg where playing golf, a night on the town in Sun City (along with more golf) and a bit of fielding practice tossed in to keep those in touch with the reality along with the object of why they are still in 'sunny' South Africa.

There is still, after all, the matter of a series to win at the Wanderers come Saturday. To get there, however, England need to beat Zimbabwe. For the game hunters north of the Limpopo, their favourite pastime, head hunting and mounting trophies on the wall is also part of the plan.

After playing on a succession of dusty cabbage patches around the country to find a pitch designed made for the slogs at least made the secret trip to SuperSport Park worth while. Hopefully the weather will co-operate and clear in time for the game, if not some practice today. England are likely to go in with an unnamed squad which means the solidly-built off-spinner and lower-order batsman Ashley Giles was brought along for extra R&R before they all pack up and move off to Zimbabwe and the series of three LOIs.

As for Zimbabwe we do not quite know what their plans are. Changes may take place when they have a look at the pitch and conditions.

Latest standings:

P W L NR TPtsNet-RR* South Africa6 4 20 08+0.074England5 2 30 04+0.029Zimbabwe5 2 30 04-0.124*indicates qualified for final.