WITH a place in Saturday’s triangular series final almost out of their grasp, a confident Zimbabwe side will be hoping to continue from where they left off against Australia when they take on a bruised South Africa in their last tri-series round robin encounter at Harare Sports Club today.
In their last of the ongoing tri-series Zimbabwe caused one of the biggest upsets in world cricket after upstaging the then top ranked one-day international (ODI) side in the world, Australia at the same venue on Sunday.
The three-wicket win — Zimbabwe’s first ODI win over the Australians in 31 years — came as a massive confidence booster for the hosts as it brought to an end a seven-match winless streak in ODIs stretching back to the home series against Afghanistan in July.
Having finally got the monkey off their backs with the win over Australia, Zimbabwe will be desperate to prove that their win was not a fluke with a better performance against the Proteas.
Last Friday, Zimbabwe looked set to beat the South Africans after Prosper Utseya’s hattrick and a maiden career five wicket haul saw them dismissing South Africa for 231 runs.
Zimbabwe would have fancied their chances of chasing down the modest total but a lifeless batting display saw them being bowled out for just 170 runs to lose the match by 61 runs.
Although the home side comfortably lost the match, they would have been encouraged by the fact that they managed to give the South Africans a huge scare in that match.
For Zimbabwe to reach Saturday’s tri-series final they need not only to convincingly beat South Africa to secure a bonus point, but their margin of victory also needs to be big enough to improve their net run-rate.
Australia booked their place in Saturday’s final after a 62-run victory over South Africa which took their points tally to 10 points.
South Africa remained on nine points after the loss while Zimbabwe are bottom of the table on four points.
Barring any injuries Zimbabwe are unlikely to make any changes to the team which beat Australia on Sunday with the spinners led by man of the moment Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams and John Nyumbu expected to carry the country’s hopes.
With their place in Saturday’s final not guaranteed, South Africa are also unlikely to tinker with their side which lost to Australia on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe: Sikandar Raza, Tino Mawoyo, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (wk), Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Prosper Utseya, John Nyumbu, Tendai Chatara, Donald Tiripano
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir – Southern eye.