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By Sandipan Banerjee
South Africa will be taking on hosts Zimbabwe in a three-match One-Day International (ODI) series, with the first match at Bulawayo staring on Sunday. The one-off Test was won by South Africa, but it was encouraging for Zimbabwe that they fought well and were in the game for the first three days of the match. AB de Villiers‘ team can expect more resistance from the hosts led by Elton Chigumbura in the shorter format.
In the post-Jacques Kallis era, South Africa are looking for the right combination for the upcoming ICC World Cup in 2015. In this series they will primarily check the reserve pace bowlers as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have been rested. It will be great opportunity for pacers like Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange to impress the selectors and keep themselves in the scheme of things for next year’s mega cricket extravaganza.
In the Proteas batting department there are no major changes as Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, de Villiers, and David Miller will be the likely top six for them. Imran Tahir is the lone spinner, and will be likely to get some help from the slow Bulawayo pitch.
For Zimbabwe it will be a golden opportunity to play one of the top ODI teams of the world in their home turf. If they can put up a good show, they won’t go unnoticed in the cricketing world any more. It will also boost their morale immensely before the upcoming tri-nation series against the same opponent and Australia.
The selectors have re-appointed Elton Chigumbura as ODI skipper. He previously led the side in the ICC World Cup 2011, and will be looking to improve his captaincy record. Apart from Chigumbura, there will be pressure on the experienced duo of Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor to lead the Zimbabwe batting. In the bowling department, their pacer Brian Vitori is back and expected to lead the bowling with off-spinner Prosper Utseya. They can even play John Nyumbu, who impressed in the one-off Test, taking a fifer on debut.
Time: 09:30 local | 07:30 GMT | 13:00 IST)
Zimbabwe: Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (wk), Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Timycen Maruma, Shingi Masakadaza, Luke Jongwe, John Nyumbu, Prosper Utseya, Tinashe Panyangara, Brian Vitori
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, AB de Villiers (capt), David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott, Marchant de Lange, Imran Tahir
(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at Cricket Country. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)
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