The ever-strong South Africa are set to host international minnows Zimbabwe this Friday in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals. This is the first time that the two teams will meet in Twenty20 action in what is set to be an exciting couple of games for both sides.
South Africa last played Twenty20 International cricket against the highly unpredictable West Indies in May, winning both games. They won the first game by 13 runs as Ryan McLaren starred, taking five wickets for 19 runs from his 3.5 overs.
However, the second fixture was nail-bitingly close as they won by only one run, as they put in a complete team performance. 21-year-old David Miller top scored for the Proteas, scoring 33 in just 26 deliveries, including two sixes.
Both McLaren and Miller are in the squad that is set to take on Zimbabwe, although McLaren has only been drafted in due to a side-strain injury to all-rounder Albie Morkel. With the five-wicket haul fresh in the mind of the right-arm seamer he will be looking to capitalise on Friday’s opportunity to establish himself in the side.
The South Africans will not take the tourists lightly as they have seen first hand that Zimbabwe can be dangerous on their day. In a recent One-Day International, wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu, scored a memorable hundred against the Proteas to help his side recover from 48 for five. He and Stuart Matsikenyeri put on 188, the highest sixth-wicket partnership and second highest overall partnership in Zimbabwean cricket.
Zimbabwean captain Elton Chigumbura has said recently that he will be looking to play positively against South Africa in the upcoming tour, which also includes three ODIs. He will be hoping that this change in attitude will be enough to give Zimbabwe a win against South Africa at the first attempt in T20 cricket. Chigumbura has just completed a stint with Northamptonshire, and will be hoping that his time there has helped him mature as a player and will help him prepare for playing against the South Africans.
Zimbabwe’s most recent Twenty20 action was this summer against the Indians. The two fixtures were not fruitful for Zimbabwe, as in the first game they were beaten by six wickets, with only three players making it in to double figures as they set a modest 111. A second string India knocked off the runs in just 15 overs.
In the second game the margin of victory increased for India as they despatched the Zimbabweans by seven wickets. The Zimbabweans batted first again and managed 140 but this was again no match for the might of the Indians, who chased it with two overs to spare.
With a lucrative kit deal from Reebok being confirmed this week, Zimbabwe will be hoping to turn the tide on their poor recent results and are able to surprise South Africa this Friday.
© Cricket World 2010