• Proteas must be ruthless

    We preview the first ODI between South Africa and Zimbabwe, taking place in Bulawayo on Sunday 17 August at 9:30am.

    The first in a three-game ODI series, Sunday’s clash will be vital for two reasons. First, it is a chance for AB de Villiers’ side to show their killer instinct. They are coming up against a weak ODI outfit, one who just drew a series against Afghanistan.

    The challenge, therefore, doesn’t lie in the opposition ranks as much as it lies in the minds of the Proteas. How willing are they to step up and be dominant during the series? This game will answer that. The hope is that they will come out all guns blazing, and blow Zimbabwe away. With the World Cup looming, that killer instinct needs to be honed, and Zimbabwe are the perfect team to do that against.

    The second important aspect of the game will be the bowling attack. With South Africa’s three main pacemen rested for the series, the responsibility for taking the wickets falls to the Proteas’ so-called second string attack. There will be pressure on Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange to deliver the goods, while Imran Tahir will be expected to mop up the tail.

    For Zimbabwe, new captain Elton Chigumbura will be in the spotlight. The 28-year-old was recently handed the reins of the ODI side, and will be tested against a top-quality South African team. His bowling changes and field placements will be under particular scrutiny, especially if someone like AB de Villiers gets off to a flyer. Does Chigumbura have the cricketing brain to deal with the type of onslaught the Proteas top-order batsmen can go on?

    I spoke of the second string bowling attack above, and Ryan McLaren will be the man expected to lead it. He has become a vital member of the Proteas ODI set-up in the past two years, but he has never been expected to carry the weight of being the premier seamer before. If he is on form, it could be a short innings for Zimbabwe, as any success by McLaren up front will get the other bowlers’ tails up.

    South Africa will win comfortably, but if their performance in the one-off Test is anything to go by, Zimbabwe won’t disgrace themselves.

    Zimbabwe – Elton Chigumbura (c), Sikandar Raza, Luke Jongwe, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Neville Madziva, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingi Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.

    South Africa – AB de Villiers (c), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, Marchant de Lange, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi.

    Photo: Backpagepix

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    Dan Gillespie