Zimbabwe will gauge their preparedness for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in the subcontinent with a tough warm-up match against South Africa at the refurbished MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai Saturday.
Today’s match will be the Zimbabwe’s first real test after convincing victories over ICC Associate members Ireland and Netherlands last week.
Elton Chigumbura and his charges will also be looking to gain vital match practice in the day-night encounter ahead of their first match against Australia on February 21.
Never mind that South Africa are one of the title favourites, but Zimbabwe look to be more prepared as they have had more time to acclimatise to the sub-continental conditions.
Zimbabwe were in a training camp in Dubai at the ICC Global Cricket Academy where they were working with West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara.
The South Africans on the other hand only arrived in Chennai on Wednesday last week but are still high on confidence after their ODI series win over India last month.
Coach Allan Butcher will also take the opportunity to experiment with his makeshift opening pair of Charles Coventry and Brendan Taylor that will be tested by the pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
While South Africa comprehensively outplayed Zimbabwe in a home series in October last year, Chigumbura and his charges will fancy themselves in the spin-friendly conditions in India.
The spinning trio of Raymond Price, Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya and part-timers Greg Lamb and Sean Williams could cause a few problems for the South Africans.
The South Africans also have their own options in Pakistan-born uncapped leg-spinner Imran Tahir, and two other frontline spinners Johan Botha and Peterson, but Steyn will spearhead the pace attack.
Zimbabwe’s major worry will be the strength of the South Africa batting line-up that boasts of the likes of in-form Hashim Amla, Smith, AB de Villiers, J P Duminy and newcomer Morne van Wyk.