|Scorecard:||South Africa v Zimbabwe|
|Event:||ICC World Twenty20 2012/13|
South Africa vs Zimbabwe
After the mauling suffered at the hands of hosts Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe will be looking to put up an improved performance when they take on their African counterparts in a do or die Group C game, played at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Sooriyawewa, Hambantota, today, September 20, 2012.
It was a beating of unusual sorts for the African minnows who were simply poor in the field. While they were expected to be outplayed, but it was the manner of their capitulation which certainly left many of their fans disappointed, including skipper Brendan Taylor, who admitted that they are a much better side. They had started the game well, and the kept the Lankans at bay for a considerable period until shoddy fielding and the class of the Kumar Sangakkara and co prevailed. The batting was woeful to say the least, as Ajantha Mendis ripped through the top and middle order, taking three wickets each in his two spells to leave them chasing shadows.
Another such outing will surely see them packing to go home early, and while such a scenario is most likely, they will be hoping to apply themselves more authoritatively facing a team they have done well against in recent times. Changes are expected to be made after the horror-show, with the bowling combination particular under notice. Chris Mpofu was terribly ineffective and might make way for a spinner. In that case, Ray Price will be the obvious choice, who is expected to partner Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya, both of whom were pretty successful. The batting will need to improve drastically, but expect Stuart Matsikenyeri to replace Malcolm Waller, whose insipid fielding cost his side dearly. It remains an uphill task for the Zimbabweans but given their recent showings against the Proteas, where they won the unofficial T20 series, there is a glimmer of hope.
For South Africa, a new era has begun under the shrewd leadership of AB de Villiers, who is by far the most complete batsmen in world cricket today. His match-winning skills are for everyone to see but it will be his captaincy which needs to stand out if his side has any chance of lifting a maiden global trophy.
Traditionally they are the 'nearly men' of World Cups - as shown by their semi-final appearances in the 2007 and 2009 World Twenty20s - but with the likes of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan being talked about as the pre-tournament favorites, for once South Africa do not have the burdensome favorites tag hanging round their necks but they are surely by far the main contenders for the title based on their recent performances.
They have the resources, starting from the management where Gary Kirsten and Allan Donald have instilled a renewed self-belief in the team by taking a calmer approach. That has already paid a handsome dividend after they were crowned Test Champions at the expense of England and they will be looking to keep that momentum going. Apart from the coaching staff, they are blessed with quality players in all departments of the game. Jacques Kallis who makes his comeback in the T20 squad, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, are reliable campaigners, while the bowling attack is blessed with some of the best in the business, with Dale Steyn as their spearhead. The spin combination has been a major plus for the Proteas, where Johan Botha and Robin Peterson are bowlers with proven T20 pedigree.
Their team formation is uncertain for now as they are sweating on the fitness of Albie Morkel, who suffered back spasms during a warm-up match against New Zealand. Other than that, Richard Levi is expected to open despite his inconsistent form with the bat.
The pitch will offer some swing in the initial phase but will tend to ease out as the ball gets old. A high-scoring encounter remains on the cards.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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