South Africa vs Zimbabwe: First ODI Preview

Cricket ball and bails on field

Zimbabwe get their half-month tour of South Africa underway on Sunday at the De Beers Diamond Oval in the Northern Cape.

South Africa – despite being without the services of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis – are overwhelming favourites. Zimbabwe, meanwhile, will look to get over the disappointment of World Cup qualification failure with a strong showing against their neighbours.

South Africa vs Zimbabwe | Sunday 30 September | De Beers Diamond Oval, Kimberley | 10:00

To Win Match
South Africa 1/16
Tie 35/1
Zimbabwe 8/1

South Africa
Ottis Gibson has named a strong squad for this home series against Zimbabwe, although you can’t help but wonder why Temba Bavuma was left out. The 28-year-old is seen as more of a longer format specialist but has plenty to offer in the intermediate format. His only two ODI appearances for South Africa have yielded 161 runs, albeit against weaker opposition in Bangladesh and Ireland.

Looking through the guys who have cracked the nod, I’m really excited to see the likes of Khaya Zondo, Reeza Hendricks and Christiaan Jonker get a go with the bat. All three are vastly experienced at List A level and have enjoyed varying success in full international limited overs cricket. David Miller, Aiden Markram, JP Duminy and Herinrich Klaasen (who will play all three games in the absence of Quinton de Kock) are the other batsmen in the squad.

While there are plenty of combinations to play around with in the top and middle order, the bowling attack almost picks itself. Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Dale Steyn will spearhead the attack that is likely to include two seaming all-rounders in Andile Phelukwayo and Wiaan Mulder. Interestingly, both Tabraiz Shamsi and Imran Tahir are in the squad with only one likely to feature at a time.

The wounds from Zimbabwe’s unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2019 World Cup will still be fresh as they make the short trip south. The fallout from their qualification failure is still being keenly felt with former coach Heath Streak – who was dismissed along with his technical team shortly after the Qualifier – has lodged an application to the country’s High Court in order to facilitate the provisional liquidation of Zimbabwe Cricket, stating that the board is unable to pay its debts.

Add this to the contractual issues – that have since been resolved – between the board and Sikandar Raza and it’s clear to see the ZC isn’t in a good space at the moment, at least in terms of administration.

Things aren’t likely to improve much on the field of play either. With star seamer, Blessing Muzarabani opting to sign a Kolpak deal with Northamptonshire. The good news for Zimbabwe, however, is the availability of Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Graeme Cremer and Raza who weren’t available for selection during a recent home T20 tri-series (against Pakistan and Australia) as well as their home ODI series against Pakistan.

Interestingly, the Zimbabweans acquitted themselves well in patches against far stronger outfits in Australia and Pakistan. It'll certainly be interesting to see how they get on with some of their big names back in the mix.

The evergreen Hamilton Masakadza will skipper the side, and there will be big pressure on the 35-year-old to deliver at the top of the order. Runs will certainly be difficult to come by against a world class South African attack so solid foundations at the top of the order are an absolute must.

Verdict: South Africa 1/16
You simply can’t see a very strong South African outfit losing out against the Zimbabwean side. 

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