Mehluli Sibanda in EAST LONDON, South Africa
DESPITE the fast-paced format of cricket having been played at international level since 2005, Zimbabwe play South Africa for only the fourth time in Twenty20 Internationals at Buffalo Park this evening.
South Africa have won all the three matches they have played against Zimbabwe with the last meeting between the neighbouring countries being at the 2012 International Cricket Council World Twenty20 in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, a match the Proteas won by 10 wickets.
For countries that are merely separated by the Limpopo River to have played each other just three times in the most popular and exciting format of the game just shows the gap between the two at the international level.
South Africa are ranked sixth in T20Is while Zimbabwe are 12th.
Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza believes the shorter the format of the game, the closer the teams come together. Masakadza is looking for someone to stand out with a performance that is good enough to win the game.
“The shorter the game, the closer the teams come together, so with T20 cricket it’s a little bit different because all you need is one guy coming off on the day and that can win you the game so I am telling the guys to keep their heads up, keep looking forward and continue being brave and being positive and always looking for that one performance,’’ Masakadza said.
He is still disappointed with the way they played in the One Day International series which they lost 3-0, with the T20Is giving them an opportunity to make amends.
“Very disappointing in the one dayers, I thought we didn’t play as well as we could have, I thought we left a lot in the tank there but obviously it’s a different series now, with different conditions and so we’re looking forward to it.”
Zimbabwe’s batting, which was appalling in the first two ODIs, improved in the final match of the series in Paarl, something that Masakadza is looking forward to continue heading into the T20Is.
“We have done a lot of good things in one dayers, I think the main thing is just to make sure we do it for a little bit longer, we started to look a little better with the bat in the last game so we just look to build on that, obviously go a that little longer and obviously do the right things a little bit longer with the ball as well,’’ he said.
Zimbabwe have made five changes to the team, bringing in two batsmen, an all rounder, pace bowler and spinner.
Chamunorwa Chibhabha and Tarisai Musakanda are the batsmen who have been brought in.
Musakanda will certainly look to carry the fine form he showed while leading Zimbabwe Select at last month’s Africa Cup Twenty20 here in South Africa where he scored 182 runs in four matches with two consecutive half centuries in the last two.
Madziva has shown his capabilities in this format of the game as he has won matches for Zimbabwe with both bat and ball in the past.
Christopher Mpofu brings with him a lot of experience at international level while Tendai Chisoro, a pace bowler turned into a spinner, has proven himself in the shorter format of the game.
Zimbabwe will look to the batsmen – Masakadza, Musakanda, Solomon Mire, Chibhabha, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura – to deliver with the bat.
The bowlers were magnificent in the ODIs, where they claimed 21 South African wickets out of 30, which was a great job looking at the kind of opposition.
Kyle Jarvis, Mpofu and Tendai Chatara should lead the bowling attack. With two left arm spinners and a leg break bowler, coach Lalchand Rajput is spoilt for choice in the slow bowling department.
Young leg spinner Brandon Mavuta has certainly bowled well in the three ODIs he played, which makes it hard to ignore him.
This leaves Chisoro and Wellington Masakadza to fight for the remaining spinner’s slot.
Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Solomon Mire, Neville Madziva, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Christopher Mpofu, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Wellington Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Tendai Chatara
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Gihahn Cloete, Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Robbie Frylinck, Imran Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.