Zimbabwe Xl team will be hoping to get their campaign back on track when the face a wounded but potentially dangerous South African “A” team in their second match of the Coca-Cola Challenge Triangular Cricket Series at the Harare Sports Club today.
Zimbabwe’s batting frailties were yet again exposed as they slumped to a disappointing 90-run loss following a meek batting display in which they failed to chase down a reachable 233 against the Australia “A” on Wednesday.
Top-order batsman Hamilton Masakadza was the only batsman in the Zimbabwe XI side to show some resolve with a fighting half-century to answer his critics at the top of the order. Opener Vusimuzi Sibanda who scored the second-highest contribution of 37 runs looks in good form and needs to convert his good start into big score.
It will also be important for Alan Butcher’s men for new skipper Brendan Taylor to return to his explosive best so that he quickly settles in his new role as skipper.
The middle-order trio of Elton Chigumbura, Forster Mtizwa and Regis Chakabva were the biggest disappointment, managing just three runs between them and remaining the main concern as they need someone from the department to bat through the innings.
Changes are likely especially in the batting line-up with former captain Tatenda Taibu, who sat out the first match with an injured thumb, a strong possibility to replace either wicketkeeper batsman Chakabva or Mtizwa.
Tall seamer Christopher Mpofu has been Zimbabwe’s best bowler as the conditions seem to be favouring the fast bowlers. He was well complemented by fellow seamer Keegan Meth, spinners Ray Price and Prosper Utseya.
The bowling department will have to be at their best against the hard-hitting trio of Loots Bosman, Jacques Rudolph and Roelof van der Merwe at the top of their batting order.
Butcher said he was impressed with his team’s bowling and fielding performances in the first match but added that the batsmen needed to improve their game for his team to stand a chance.
“I think our bowling and fielding has been brilliant but to win matches we have to come up with good performances in all departments with the major area for us being the batting.
“Our batting definitely has to improve and all the players are well aware of that and have been working hard in that department since the loss.
We need good performances and one or two of the guys need to bat through and that means spending more time at the crease,” Butcher said yesterday.
Despite their 60-run loss to the Australians on Thursday, the South Africa “A” is still a strong squad with a potent pace attack led by Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt and Craig Alexander.
The trio looked in good form, all grabbing two wickets apiece against the Aussies and the Zimbabwe XI’s batsmen will have to do well against them to achieve a turnaround in the series.
Zimbabwe probable team: B Taylor (Captain), V Sibanda, H Masakadza, R Chakabva, E Chigumbura, F Mtizwa, C Ervine, P Utseya, R Price, K Meth, C Mpofu,
South Africa’s probable team: J Rudolph (capt), C Alexander, L Bosman, R Kleinveldt, H Kuhn, E Mbhalati, D Miller, J Ontong, V Philander, R Van der Merwe, J Vandiar.