After a 3-match ODI series whitewash, South Africa shifts its focus to the shortest format of the game when they travel to East London to take on Zimbabwe in the first of three T20 Internationals, starting tomorrow. Up against an obviously vulnerable South African side, Zimbabwe just couldn’t pull the trigger in all three games when SA’s fledgeling batting line-up consistently struggled on tricky surfaces. Zimbabwe have a chance at redemption though they have lost all six T20Is they played this year. They have also lost all the three T20Is they have played against South Africa and are in a desperate need of an inflection point on this tour, and in the format as a whole.
Here’s the tricky part of the equation for Zimbabwe’s payback plans though – David Miller and Quinton de Kock, who were rested from the ODI series, return to bolster the side further from Faf du Plessis, who partly missed the Sri Lanka tour, and was fast-tracked into the third ODI after recovering earlier than expected from his shoulder injury.
October 09th, Tuesday – 1st T20I
Buffalo Park, East London, 09:30pm
October 12th, Friiday – 2nd T20I
Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, 09:30pm
October 14th, Sunday – 3rd T20I
Willowmoore Park, Benoni, 06:00pm
The South African batting line-up is strong and formidable – Quinton de Kock and David Miller would fancy scoring upfront, while in du Plessis, JP Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen the team has a strong middle order with each having the firepower to take the bowlers apart. A few new faces have been added to the squad as well – hard hitting Highveld Lions batsman Rassie van der Dussen, who impressed in the Global T20 League in Canada (255 runs at 51.00) has earned a national call-up alongside Christiaan Jonker, who featured in two of the three ODIs against Zimbabwe.
But it is their bowling unit which is expected to go for the kill against the weak batting side that the visitors have. Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo would be too hot to handle and in Imran Tahir and Junior Dala they have a well-balanced attack. Dala, who has impressed in his limited outings in South African colours (9 wickets in 4 games) gets another opportunity while Dane Paterson and Robbie Frylinck return to the setup after missing out on the recent Sri Lankan tour.
For Zimbabwe, the opening combination of Solomon Mire and Chamu Chibhabha struggled in the last T20 series and if they can provide a good start this time around, skipper Masakadza, who remains the mainstay at No. 3 alongwith Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams would be able to hold the innings to put up big runs on the board. The lower order would also need to click against a strong bowling side. As for the bowling attack the trio of Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara would need to bowl out of their skins if the side are to pose any challenge at all to the strong SA batting. Veteran fast bowler Christopher Mpofu makes his return to the side alongside Chamu Chibaba and all-rounder Neville Madziva, while Craig Ervine and Donald Tiripano miss out after a lacklustre showing in the ODI series.
Imran Tahir (South Africa): The leg-spinner, who has a bowling average of 15.85 in the shortest format of the game, will be the vital cog in the bowling wheel. He was immensely effective throughout the ODI series and should carry his form in the T20Is.
Hamilton Masakadza (Zimbabwe): Masakadza, Zimbabwe’s highest-ranked batsman, will be their best chance of putting up a fight against the hosts. He will look to capitalise on the inexperienced bowling in the opposition camp and be the pivot around which the big-hitters revolve.
South Africa: Heinrich Klaasen was among runs in a low-scoring ODI series and it will be interesting to see how South Africa manage both him and returning David Miller in the side. There’s a chance both might play but JP Duminy will have to make way then. Take away Reeza Hendricks’s 66 in the third ODI and South Africa have two potential debutants in Rassie van der Dussen and Gihahn Cloete – both being top-order batsmen.
Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks/Gihahn Cloete, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, Heinrich Klaasen/David Miller, Robbie Frylinck, Andile Phehlukwayo, Junior Dala, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir/Tabraiz Shamsi
Zimbabwe: Christopher Mpofu, Chamu Chibhabha and all-rounder Solomon Mire return to the squad, with the latter two in the reckoning to open the batting. Mire, in particular, had a very good tri-series against Pakistan and Australia, and will add solidity at the top.
Probable XI: Chamu Chibhabha, Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza (c), Brendan Taylor (wk), Sean Williams, Peter Moor/Tarisai Musakanda, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Brandon Mavuta, Kyle Jarvis, Christopher Mpofu
While the 3-0 ODI scoreline suggests a comprehensive win for the hosts, it was anything but. They were made to fight in every game by the spirited Zimbabweans who didn’t quite do enough to win even one of them. The visitors would count their chances in the T20 format as these games can be won with one good performance over a short period of play which the side displayed well over the course of three ODIs.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis(c), Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Robert Frylinck, Imran Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Gihahn Cloete, Rassie van der Dussen
Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza(c), Solomon Mire, Neville Madziva, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Chris Mpofu, Chamu Chibhabha, Wellington Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Tendai Chatara
Zimbabwe has shown some spunk in the ODI series but South Africa would start as overwhelming favourites in the T20 series as well.
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