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Zimbabwe vs South Africa: ZIM Tri-Series Preview

Written by Rick John Henry for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!


Zimbabwe vs South Africa | Thursday 04 September | Harare | 09:30

There’s just something about a Triangular Series that engages cricket fans far better than a simple bilateral contest. Be it the prospect of upsets, a final or simply the break in monotony that inevitably permeates the average five-match ODI series, not many triangular contests can be said to be boring. Indeed, minnows Zimbabwe are still in with a chance of reaching the final and knocking out their far more powerful neighbours. The Proteas began the series with a comprehensive victory over Australia before stumbling in victory over Zimbabwe. A loss to the Australians leaves South Africa seeking improvement if they hope to leave the host nation with the trophy. A big victory here would go a long way in improving morale and serve to bolster confidence ahead of a likely clash with the world’s number one ODI side.

To Win
Zimbabwe 8/1
Tie 35/1
South Africa 1/14

Zimbabwe
While the host nation will be hopeful of exacting another upset here, it by no means guarantees them a place in the final. For a shot at meeting Australia, Zimbabwe will need to win by a massive margin, not only improving their net run-rate but securing a bonus point in the process. Of this they will be aware, but they will also be immeasurably buoyed by their last two performances. Captain Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya combined at the wicket when Zimbabwe seemed set for another collapse, wrestling the initiative back Zimbabwe’s way with a 55-run stand at the death to take their side over the line for their first ODI victory over Australia in 31 years. This came on the back of a disciplined spin assault that limited the Aussies to 209/9 from their fifty overs. Against South Africa, Utseya was again Zimbabwe’s hero, recording a career-best 5/36 after taking only the second one-day international hat-trick in Zimbabwean cricket history. Their batsmen faltered against the Proteas and the host nation will be more than pleased that they were able to get over the line against Australia after having put themselves in winning positions before, only to later capitulate. They have showed passion and fight in this Triangular Series, showing an aptitude for strategy in the way they have played the conditions in Harare. However, beating the Proteas in a crunch match may just be a step too far for the minnows.

South Africa
The Proteas will be quietly confident of their place in the final but must arrest the clear slide in their form. The side blitzed to victory in their opening match despite conceding well over 300 runs, but have since failed to replicate the same intensity. In both instances against Australia they found their death bowling options limited and punished. Indeed, conceding sixty in the final five overs on Tuesday proved to be the difference between winning and losing. Dale Steyn was bludgeoned for three consecutive sixes for the first time in his career. Ryan McLaren couldn’t find his yorker and instead turned to long-hops. McLaren hasn’t the pace to be pitching the ball short in Zimbabwe and was dutifully dispatched. AB de Villiers turned to Morne Morkel, not a renowned death bowler by any stretch of the imagination. While he managed a few in the right spot, he generally overpitched, almost bowling two waist-high no balls in a row. Perhaps Kyle Abbott would be better suited for the role that the Proteas desperately need to fill ahead of next year’s World Cup. In the batting department, Faf du Plessis looks good at first drop, generally reserving his best performances in all formats for Australia. Two hundreds in the Triangular Series sees him topping the run-scoring charts and he will be eager to contribute in another winning cause at some stage. Thinking of backing him for runs? Wait until Saturday.

Venue
A tired looking Harare track has two more games to host and is extremely unlikely to get any quicker over the course of the next few days. Zimbabwe will likely play their full spin contingent again, while the Proteas turn to Tahir, Phangiso and Duminy to whirl through the middle overs. Run scoring should prove difficult, so don’t expect sides to breach the 270 mark. No rain is forecast.

BEST: A Hundred To Be Scored In The Match, NO 8/10
Despite Faf du Plessis thwarting my bet on this market in the last fixture, I still maintain that scoring a century on the Harare track will be very difficult. Considering there’s no value in the outright market and very little to go on in the Best Batsman department, coupled with the absence of century between these two teams last time out, having a strike here seems the way to go.

VERDICT: South Africa 1/14
The price is far too short but don’t go wasting your money on Zimbabwe. Upsets in the nature of their victory over Australia are few and very far between for the minnows. The Proteas haven’t always looked impressive against their neighbours in recent times, but should still have enough to book their place in the final.

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