South Africa, Zimbabwe seek to solve middle-order issues


The bowlers from South Africa did an excellent job in the first game of the series and the hosts are 1-0, but there are questions about their batting. In Mangaung Oval of Bloemfontein, they can have the perfect scenario to correct some of their batting errors and get the intermediate order to flow smoothly.

An unproven intermediate order clearly got the note about playing aggressive cricket, but in the first ODI its application in conditions that made the strokeplay dangerous went awry. Only Heinrich Klaasen seemed to have figured out how to be positive in the face of the additional bounce in Kimberley.

The bowls of South Africa, on the other hand, appear in a state of extreme kindness. Kagiso Rabada played a bit inside himself on Sunday, but he remained effective, while Lungi Ngidi proved that he could be a threat even in a fairly slow pitch. Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder did exactly what they were asked to back up the pair of new balls, while Imran Tahir buzzed through his variations to clear the tail.

The batsmen of Zimbabwe will also be pleased that the attack of South Africa can be eliminated a bit by the favorable conditions for the bat in Bloemfontein. Visitors at least also have a bit more experience of Bloemfontein than Kimberley before the opening of the series.

The Mangaung Oval is one of the few plots in South Africa where Zimbabwe has a history in all three international formats. Almost twenty years ago, this was the ground where Zimbabwe played its first test match on the soil of South Africa, and more recently the Zimbabwe hitters had left with fond memories of the T20 and ODI cricket here. Eight years ago, Brendan Taylor got the best 145 of his career here under lights. Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura were also part of the XI in that game, and Masakadza has a particular connection with the city.

Sixteen years ago, Masakadza enrolled in the Free State University to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at his Bloemfontein campus, and must have cut an unlikely figure at his Afrikaans shelter, Vishuis. But, he says, he enjoyed his time here, studying with the help of a cricket scholarship organized by Ewie Cronje, Hansie's father, and when he returned to the city for the first time since finishing college with the national team in October. 2010, he cracked 72 in a T20I against a bowling attack that included his former college teammate, Ryan McLaren.

Zimbabwe desperately needs Masakadza to revive some of that spark of varsity at the top of the order. South Africa also needs more of its batting unit.

Forms Guide

South Africa WLLWW (last five complete matches, most recent first)
Zimbabwe LLLLL [19659012] Brandon Mavuta celebrates his first ODI Wicket AFP

In the spotlight

The South African middle order is under more than a little pressure to act after a break in its last three ODI. Reeza Hendricks has just seven runs in his last three ODI innings, while Dean Elgar and Christiaan Jonker have yet to prove whether they can replace the injured Hashim Amla and the absent David Miller. Klaasen helped South Africa to overcome an oscillation against Zimbabwe in the first game, and the batting hopefuls will be desperate to prevail a bit more the second time.

Zimbabwe has some of its own mid-order problems, but its batting discomfort is a little more widespread and of particular concern is its ability to absorb the pressure by turning the attack with singles. This was particularly evident in Kimberley, when 153 of the 205 deliveries launched in Zimbabwe were points. They will have to find a way to handle South Africa a bit more with quick singles.

Team news

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson spoke about giving extended opportunities to those in the initial XI before this series, and it is likely that the South African group of experts want to take another look at their combination in different terms. South Africa's bowling attack combined very well in the first game, and its first six should have another chance to do the same.

South Africa (possible): 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Reeza Hendricks, 4 JP Duminy (capt), 5 Heinrich Klaasen (week), 6 Christiaan Jonker, 7 Wiaan Mulder, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Imran Tahir

With Brendan Taylor maintaining the postulate, Zimbabwe's combinations are also likely to be resolved for the time being. The value of playing Elton Chigumbura as an extra hitter in the no. 7 was shown in the first ODI, when he scored the first place with 27, and with Sean Williams and Solomon Mire occupying the position of the fifth bowler, visitors have many options with the ball.

Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 2 Solomon Mire, 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Brendan Taylor (week), 5 Sean Williams, 6 PJ Moor / Ryan Murray, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Wellington Masakadza, 9 Brandon Mavuta, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Tendai Chatara

Step and conditions

Unless the field of play is completely out of place, as in the case of Kimberley, there should be many runs available. Unless there is grass, the Mangaung Oval track is as flat as any in the country, and some coaches of the franchise even criticized the extent to which the bat dominated the ball in some games last season.

Just to make things a little more comfortable for hitters, the weather should be mild in the day, with a lot of sun and a light breeze.

Statistics and curiosities


"I really want to go home, it's been a long time coming, I have not played there for a while"
Captain of Zimbabwe Hamilton Masakadza thinks of Bloemfontein as a kind of second home, having lived in the city as a university student. [19659003] "I'm still under pressure to secure a place in this team, so, for me, every game I play in I need to do well."
Another high scoring performance did not Heinrich Klaasen still under pressure for his place, any damage.


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