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Each and every one day international series from here on in will be played with the ICC World Cup 2019 in mind. There are just about eight months to go for the mega event and teams will want to start locking down its best pool of 14-15 players. While South Africa goes into this series with exactly this in mind, their opponent, Zimbabwe, does not have to worry about because it did not qualify for the world cup.
Zimbabwe cricket will try to recover from yet another setback in its cricket development as a number of senior players sat out important home fixtures due to unpaid salaries. All but one of those players have now returned to the fold. South Africa is also missing/resting some senior players to try and test its bench out.
In the larger scheme of things, this series is more than just another bilateral ODI series.
The lack of a major trophy in South Africa’s cabinet is once again going to be brought up as the World Cup 2019 draws nearer and nearer. Some might say that they had their best ever chance in 2015 when they lost tragically in the semi-final but there is no doubt the team is going to be a serious contender this time around as well.
The coach and selectors have made it very clear that every ODI being played up until that world cup is an audition for places in the squad.
Perhaps, that is why the team is missing Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, and Keshav Maharaj. There are some additional players like Chris Morris, Temba Bavuma, and Vernon Philander who were not considered since they were recovering from injuries as well.
South Africa may have lost a lot of players to Kolpak but it is still one of the most talented sides in the world.
In this series, players like Heinrich Klaasen, Dean Elgar, Christiaan Jonker, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, Khaya Zondo, and JP Duminy will provide the batting strength for South Africa. It will be interesting to see which players South Africa goes for at the start of the series.
Duminy, who will be leading South Africa in this series, will also want to cement his own place in the ODI’s and bring his game to the level that everyone has expected of him for a long time now. In our opinion, Markram is the future of South African batting. He has suffered a loss of form over the last few months and being thrust into the captaincy against India was not easy either but he is definitely a player that the team management should back.
The bowling lineup will witness the comeback of Dale Steyn to international white-ball cricket after nearly two years. Can he find a place in the World Cup side ahead of Ngidi, Rabada, Phehlukwayo, and the likes? The stakes may be highest for him personally in this series.
South Africa has a near full-strength side in the bowing department thanks to their battery of fast bowlers, Imran Tahir, and Tabraiz Shamsi to handle the spin department.
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, Jean-Paul Duminy, Heinrich Klaasen, Christiaan Jonker, PWA Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi.
A tour to South Africa is tough for any team but especially so for a team like Zimbabwe that is undergoing an existential crisis. After some positive moves that saw them recalling players like Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis from English county cricket, the inability to qualify for the World Cup 2019 really shook their cricketing structures.
Payment disputes, player disputes, and a coaching staff that keeps on rotating all add up to a team in disarray. Thankfully, a few of those things seem to have settled down and Zimbabwe is near full-strength for this ODI series.
For Zimbabwe to be able to give the South Africans a fight, forget winning, their players will need to perform at their very best. Zimbabwe was embarrassed by Pakistan 5-0 not too long ago and the scars of that series will still be fresh.
Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, and Brendon Taylor will provide the bulk of the batting strength with support from Peter Morre and Elton Chigumbura down the order. A full-strength Zimbabwe team beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka recently so all is not doom and gloom for Zimbabwe going into this matchup against South Africa.
We believe for Zimbabwe to get runs the middle order of Ervine, Taylor, and Williams will have to have a brilliant series. All three of them are very good at pacing the ODI innings and can play the big shots when the situation demands.
The South African surfaces are usually excellent for batting in ODI cricket and we don’t think runs will be too much of a problem for Zimbabwe. Where they will really need some inspiration is the bowling department.
Zimbabwe will be hoping that Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, and Donald Tripano can make use of these opportunities to outshine what they have been able to do in international cricket up until now. Kyle Jarvis will bring in some high-quality experience but expect a lot of part-time bowling from Sean Williams to fill in the gaps as well.
Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, BRM Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, E Chigumbura, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, WP Masakadza, Tendai Chatara.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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A warm day with no chance of rain has been forecast for match day. The pitch is expected to be flat, hard, and excellent for batting. The bowlers should also be able to extract some bounce from the surface if they put the hard yards in. A score of around 300 should be considered par especially if South Africa bats first.
South Africa should win this match and the series with ease. We would advise putting an early bet on a 3-0 scoreline because there may be some better value in that. Individually, South African players are not going to hold back in this series as they try and maximize their chances of making the squad for the World Cup and so big margins of victory may be in store.
Back South Africa to win.
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