Neighbours out to prove a point in rare World Cup clash

Rain once again on the radar as South Africa and Zimbabwe brace for their Super 12s opener

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It doesn’t have quite the same hype as the Trans-Tasman or subcontinent derbies, but the meeting of two southern African neighbours has all the makings of a classic match-up.

There’s an obvious favourite: South Africa, who have never lost a T20I to Zimbabwe and only been defeated by them in two ODIs. One of those was at the 1999 ODI World Cup, where the result had a direct bearing on South Africa’s opponents in the semi-final, and we all know what happened there. So, Zimbabwe have some claim to being noisy neighbours, determined to cause an upset, even if their last decade has been quiet.

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They haven’t appeared at an ICC event in six years and have not made it to what we can call “the main section” of a T20 World Cup since 2012, before a first round was introduced. In that time, they’ve gone through administrative crises that only South Africa can rival. Zimbabwe Cricket was temporarily suspended from the ICC and so could not compete in qualification for the 2021 T20 World Cup.

Cricket South Africa have previously been banned by their sports minister from bidding for or hosting major events as punishment for the slow pace of transformation and had a board directive to collectively take a knee imposed on them at last year’s tournament.

The T20 World Cup presents an opportunity for both teams to demonstrate a turning of the page, so to speak. For South Africa, it’s their last event under coach Mark Boucher, who will leave to take charge of Mumbai Indians, and therefore a culmination of his work with the squad. Anything less than advancement to the knockouts will not be received well at home.

For Zimbabwe, it’s their first major tournament under coach Dave Houghton, who has brought back the element of fun and given the players freedom to play without fearing the consequences of making mistakes. He has tasked them with “doing some damage,” in the Super 12s, while being realistic of their chances of progression to the knockouts. For both teams the journey starts here where South Africa have everything to lose but Zimbabwe, everything to gain.

Will Wayne Parnell keep his place in the side?BCCI

Form guide

(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
South Africa WLLWW
Zimbabwe WLWWL

In the spotlight

There’s no one under more scrutiny in the South Africa XI than their captain Temba Bavuma , who has scored just 11 runs in four international innings since returning from an elbow injury that sidelined him for three months. Bavuma is also coming off an illness that kept him out of South Africa’s last two ODIs in India and the warm-up match against New Zealand, and he has only just returned a clean bill of health. He doesn’t have much time to find his feet with the spotlight firmly on his strike rate and Reeza Hendricks’ recent form breathing down his neck. Bavuma has had a difficult 2022, with only 64 runs in seven T20I innings and will know that has to change if South Africa’s campaign are to have a successful campaign.

Sikandar Raza has carried Zimbabwe over the last few monthsICC/Getty Images

Sikandar Raza has emerged as a superstar and now he has an opportunity to do it against some of the best teams in the world. This year, Raza has scored 652 T20I runs at an average of 40.75, including five fifties, and taken 20 wickets at 17.35. He has single-handedly carried Zimbabwe over the line in tough situations and could use the tournament as a shop window for a T20 franchise deal. His coach, Houghton said he hopes, “a lot of people around the world in franchise tournaments are looking because he’s a fantastic T20 cricketer.” IPL, SA20, ITL20 – are you watching?

Team news

Bavuma promised “no surprises” in South Africa’s team, especially in their batting line-up, which means it’s likely they will go in without Hendricks, despite his hot streak earlier in the year, and a top three of Quinton de Kock, Bavuma and Rilee Rossouw. They will have to make a decision over which of Heinrich Klaasen or Tristan Stubbs will be preferred in the middle-order and whether Wayne Parnell will continue to hold the allrounder’s berth or if Marco Jansen gets in ahead of him. The first-choice seamers should all be deployed, with room for only one spinner.

South Africa: : (possible) 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Rilee Rossouw 4 Aiden Markram, 5 David Miller, 6 Heinrich Klaasen/Tristan Stubbs 7 Wayne Parnell, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Anrich Nortje 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Kagiso Rabada.

Regis Chakabva’s form (scores of 0, 13 and 4 from the opening round) could be a concern for Zimbabwe, but his experience is likely to see him keep his place in the Super 12s opener. Zimbabwe have not found room for left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza yet and, with Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams and Ryan Burl at their disposal, he may continue to sit out. Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Luke Jongwe and Blessing Muzarabani give them a four-pronged pace pack.

Zimbabwe: (possible) 1 Regis Chakabva (wk), 2 Craig Ervine (capt), 3 Wessly Madhevere, 4 Sean Williams, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Milton Shumba, 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Tendai Chatara, 10 Richard Ngarava, 11 Blessing Muzarabani.

Pitch and conditions

From the first round of matches, teams could tell that it was difficult to score off the new ball at the Bellerive Oval and bowlers benefitted from employing hard lengths upfront. There’s something for the seamers and spinners, and scores of around 160 are fairly competitive at this venue. But that’s only if a full 20 overs are possible. It’s cold and rainy in Hobart for most of this week, which does not bode well for the late match on Monday. The rain forecast of 20% through most of the day increases to 70% by 5pm and 80% by 8pm and the chances of a reduced match are in the offing.

Stats and trivia

  • Zimbabwe have never beaten South Africa in a T20I. They have played five matches against them, and lost them all, most recently in 2018. These two teams have also never met at a T20 World Cup.
  • Luke Jongwe is two away from fifty T20I wickets.

Quotes

“As a South African, I’m obviously happy that a fellow African country has made it through from the qualifiers. They’ve had a few good performances. We are excited and looking forward to the clash against them. They are definitely not a side to be taken lightly.”
As much as Temba Bavuma is pleased about Zimbabwe’s progression, he is also wary of them

“The mood in the camp is very upbeat. Everybody’s very excited for what lies ahead for us. But we know that it is a quick turnaround, and we’ve got South Africa here in Hobart tomorrow, which is going to be a tough start to the Super 12s for us, but everyone is really looking forward to it. I think just looking forward to these new challenges up ahead.”
Zimbabwe can’t wait to go up against some of the best, according to captain Craig Ervine

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