THE Zimbabwe national cricket team’s resurgence in the One-Day-Internationals (ODI) will be put to test today as they face South Africa in the first of a three match MTN series in Bloemfontein.
Zimbabwe has this year recorded some success in the 50-over format of the game after years of turbulence.
Zimbabwe beat giants India twice in the Micromax triangular series in Harare after posting a series win against Kenya earlier this year.
Zimbabwe’s progress is up for measure once more against Graeme Smith’s side that is resting Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis.
Just as they did in the Pro-20 series last week, Zimbabwe was competitive in their tour of South Africa last year in a series which they eventually lost 2-0.
Wicket-keeper/batsman Tatenda Taibu, who scored an unbeaten century and a half century in the two ODIs, led in a good batting display with the bowling attack failing to offer back up leading to the loses.
The trend has continued in this tour so far where in the Pro-20 matches played last week Zimbabwe exhibited a good batting display but the bowling department was severely brutalised by the Proteas’ batmen led by former captain Smith.
Having added Grant Flower to their squad, Zimbabwe will have the option of calling upon the veteran’s bowling experience, which could be useful against an experienced South African line up.
With the ICC World Cup just four months away, Zimbabwe will be looking to fine tune their pace-attack and this series provides a learning platform for the quartet of Christopher Mpofu, Rainsford Edward, Shingi Masakadza and Ian Nicholson.
Edwards went into the South African series buoyed by his success against Ireland where he claimed 10 wickets in three innings, but so far he has found the South Africans a tougher challenge.
On the other hand Nicholson exhibited good pace but struggled for precision.
A win for Zimbabwe at this stage of rehabilitation against the accomplished Proteas will be considered a bonus in a series where Zimbabwe’s expectations do not go beyond offering good competition.
Zimbabwe has since adopted an aggressive approach, which has since yielded good results and in this series they have promised to stick with that strategy.
Since Neil Johnson starred with both bat and ball in 2000 to lead Zimbabwe to a two wicket victory, success over the South Africans, another victory has remained
elusive but the performance in the Pro-20 series has brought hope of ending a decade’s wait.
Captain Elton Chigumbura was targeting an upset in the T-20s, but he has also promised to play for a win in all the matches in this tour. — Staff Writer.