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Since their failure to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019, Zimbabwe Cricket has gone only downhill. They've now lost as many as eight One Day Internationals on the bounce and are desperate for a win to not only stay in the series but also keep their hopes alive of the revival of Zimbabwean Cricket. They'll be up against South Africa in the second ODI of the series on Wednesday, October 3 at Bloemfontein.
The quality of South Africa was apparent in the first match where their bowlers didn't even have to break a sweat to dismiss Zimbabwean lineup. It was partially due to the highly favorable conditions for bowling at the Kimberley Oval surface. The Proteas have found themselves on the right side of the result on both the meeting the two teams have had at this ground. While it appears to be one-way traffic as far as the historical results between the two sides are concerned, it remains to be seen how Zimbabwe bounce back from their annihilating defeat in the first match.
Although the Proteas eventually clinched the win in the first ODI, they had to work very hard to get to a small total of 119. While the freshly prepared pitch assisted their bowlers perfectly, their batsmen had to toil hard to score on the day where bowlers of both sides prospered.
South African bowlers were lethal right from the beginning and had five of the top six Zimbabwean batsmen caught in the slips. Although Rabada didn't appear to be at his hundred percent, he still managed to snap two wickets. Andile Phehlukwayo, too, found himself amongst the wickets as he dismissed Hamilton Masakadza and Sean Williams. Lungi Ngidi extracted steep bounce from the surface and was the pick of the bowling. Imran Tahir, too, impressed with his variations as he cleaned the Zimbabwean tail.
Regardless of the surface, chasing 117 should never have been difficult for the Proteas. Instead, they found themselves struggling in front of tall Zimbabwean bowlers who extracted better help from the surface as compared to their South African counterpart. While the absence of their regular skipper, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, and Hashim Alma was clearly felt at the top of the order as we saw Proteas tottering at 58 for 4 before Heinrich Klaasen and JP Duminy bailed them out.
Thanks to Klaasen's 44-run knock, South Africa eventually sealed the deal with five wickets to spare. Unlike Zimbabwean batsmen, South Africans decided to play their shots on the tricky surface which perhaps panned out in their favor. It was a difficult surface to survive on and scoring quickly was the only options they had to overhaul a low total.
Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Reeza Hendricks, Jean-Paul Duminy, Khaya Zondo, Heinrich Klaasen, Christiaan Jonker, Andile Phehlukwayo, DW Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi.
While Zimbabweans will be joyous with the return of veteran Brendan Taylor and Co. in the lineup, they'd be worried about their form at the same time. Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, and Craig Ervine returned to the squad but contributed only 20 runs between them. Taylor survived for 29 deliveries on a tricky surface and scored 9 runs while Ervine and Williams were dismissed for 7 and 4 respectively.
Barring skipper Hamilton Masakadza, no one from the top five could muster an individual score in double digits. Elton Chigumbra was top-scorer for them with a score of 27. Hamilton Masakadza, Moor, and Wellington Masakadza were the other batsmen scoring in double digits. They contributed with 25, 13, and 15 respectively.
Although their batsmen struggled, their bowlers bowled well and appeared to be in nice rhythm. Their bowlers put on a spirited performance which ensured that South Africans had to toil hard to chase what was a paltry total by all standards. Tendai Chatara was the pick of their attack as he returned with the figures of 12 for 2 in his 6 overs.
Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, BRM Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, E Chigumbura, Brandon Mavuta, Kyle Jarvis, Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chatara.
There's likely to be some assistance for the seamers early in the day which might tempt the team winning the toss to bowl first.
It's going to be a warm day at Bloemfontein, but a light breeze should keep the weather nice and comfortable. Unlike Kimberley, the surface at the Mangaung Oval Oval will a lot more conducive for batting. The team batting first will be looking to score in excess of 270.
With World Cup less than a year away, this series is acting as the breeding ground for South African talent. The young members of the squad have an opportunity to showcase their talent in the absence of Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, and Hashim Amla. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, are trying hard to revive Cricket in their country. The return of stars has reignited their hopes and Zimbabwean Cricket will be looking up to them to perform and take the team across the line. Although Zimbabwe have good talent at their disposal, a win for them is a tough prospect to think even for the optimists. Playing at home conditions, South Africa are firm favorites to win the second ODI and clinch the series.