Zimbabwe go up against South Africa in the sixth one-day international of the tri-series at Harare on Thursday.
This is the last league match before the final. For Zimbabwe to get to the final they need a massive victory. Australia's win with a bonus point against South Africa on Tuesday has all but snuffed out Zimbabwe's chances of securing a spot in the final.
Zimbabwe, who beat Australia on Sunday for the first time since the year 1983 World Cup , will take the confidence of that victory into the match on Thursday. Zimbabwe have improved by leaps and bounds since the first match of the tournament where they suffered a massive defeat of 198 runs at the hands of Australia.
The punters would never have bet on Zimbabwe to pull off that magnificent win against Australia just a few days after the 198-run thrashing.
The Zimbabweans showed a lot of character to bounce back. Zimbabwe though are not getting ahead of themselves.
"I think the guys know that they still have a job to do and I can't see them growing any big heads before they have improved. I would like us to improve on our rankings I think that if we work hard, with the experience that these guys have, I am sure we can improve on that," coach ESPNCricinfo quoted Stephen Mangongo as saying.
Zimbabwe's bowling in particula, after conceding 350 runs in the first match against Australia, has come a long way. They managed to skittle South Africa out for 231 in an earlier game.
Off-spinner Prosper Utseya dominated the proceedings with a hattrick and a fiver here. Bowling out a batting lineup for 231 that has the likes of Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villers takes some doing.
In the very next match they restricted Australia to a paltry 209 for nine in their 50 overs. Utseya once again played a key role. Zimbabwe's spinners such as Utseya and offie John Nyumbu in particular have stood out. They will hope to come good against the Proteas too.
South Africa on their part would be looking to get back to winning ways after their disappointing loss against Australia. The Proteas, however, would not be taking Zimbabwe lightly.
"We feel that Zimbabwe is a threat now. They play well in these conditions and the prepare wickets that suit them. We expect a slow-turner in the next match. We need to beat them now. I don't think it's time to rest players," said du Plessis.
South Africa's weakness against spin bowling are well-known. The last time these two sides met, Zimbabwe exploited this to the hilt with Utseya dominating. It'll be interesting to see how the likes of Amla and du Plessis tackle him and the other spinners.
Another worry for South Africa is their bowling and the form of premier pacer Dale Steyn. He was all over the place in the game against Australia as he conceded 64 runs in nine overs. South Africa have conceded 327 and 282 against the Aussies in this tournament. It is very odd for a side that has pacers Steyn and Morne Morkel to concede high totals with such regularity. They would hope to sort this out.
Expected lineups: Zimbabwe: Sikandar Raza, Tino Mawoyo, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura , Prosper Utseya, John Nyumbu, Tendai Chatara, Donald Tiripano
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock , Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir
Where to Watch Live:
The game will start at at 9:30 am local time (1pm IST) with live coverage in India on Ten Cricket. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. In South Africa it will be shown on Supersport 2, the live streaming option is HERE. In Australia Fox Sports 2 will broadcast the match while viewers can also watch it live online HERE. Willow TV will air the game in the United States, with the option to live stream available HERE.