No room for below-par game against Zim

2014-09-04 00:00

ZIMBABWE’S win against Australia last weekend have given them the belief they can beat the best on their day.

Today needs to be better than that if they harbour any thought of reaching Saturday’s Tri-Series final against Australia as they need to give the Proteas a proper hiding to get anywhere close.

Having laboured to a 61-run win when they met Zimbabwe for the first time in the series, the Proteas then lost to Australia by 62 runs on Tuesday and will be looking to dominate from the start this time around.

The match is there to be lost by the Proteas, but they will need to approach it with purpose and meaning.

While they are virtually certain of playing in Saturday’s final, they cannot afford to merely go through the motions and scrape through the Test.

To take on the Aussies, this match needs to be used as the ideal launching pad to iron out the vulnerable areas and ensure a confident unit steps on to the Harare Sports Club field for the final.

One area of concern is the middle-order that has battled to fire in the last two games.

Against Zimbabwe, it was cast away by spinner Prosper Utseya’s hat-trick and Faf du Plessis played a lone hand in a superb fighting 126 against the Aussies.

Ryan McLaren’s 24 was the next best score and the big disappointment in both matches was the opportunity missed by David Miller.

Both times he came to the crease with plenty of overs in hand and time to build a decent innings.

The platform was set, yet he was bamboozled by a straight one from Utseya that slammed into his pads and blinded by pace when Mitchell Johnson sent his stumps into disarray.

In the latter instance, the lack of footwork was a concern.

Du Plessis though, targets the nature of the wicket as the cause for the middle-order dilemma.

“The way the wickets play is the reason,” he said.

“The ball gets slower meaning it’s difficult for new batsmen to score. It’s a tough time of the innings to be at the crease.”

Batting at number three, promoted from his normal number six slot, has seen an element of maturity and responsibility from Du Plessis.

“I enjoy the key number three role, but feel I can still improve,” he said.

“Form doesn’t last forever and I need to get the big runs while the going is good.”

Both teams should be unchanged today with Morné Morkel’s shoulder injury the only cause of concern for the Proteas.

Zimbabwe, still basking in Sunday’s glory, will battle to stop the same 11 stepping on to the field.

The Proteas need their best 11 on the field as a precursor for Saturday’s clash.

Today’s match is telecast on SuperSport 2 from 9.15 am.

Zimbabwe’s Equation

They need to beat South Africa by 133 runs to eliminate them from the final if they (Zimbabwe) bat first and score at least 250. If South Africa bat first and score 200 or less, Zimbabwe will need to chase the total down in about 23.3 overs.

Tri-Series Standings

Australia 10 points (qualified for final); South Africa nine points (net run rate 0.118); Zimbabwe four points (net run rate -1.665)

Proteas Middle-Order

Faf du Plessis - 3 matches, 3 innings, runs 247, HS 126, Avg 82.33, S/Rate 106.46

AB de Villiers - 2 matches, 2 innings, runs 142, HS 136*, Avg 142.00, S/R 113.60

David Miller - 3 matches, 2 innings, runs 3, HS 3, Avg 1.50, S/Rate 50.00

JP Duminy - 3 matches, 3 innings, runs 51, HS 33*, Avg 25.50, S/Rate 69.86

Ryan McLaren - 3 matches, 2 innings, runs 30, HS 24, Avg 15.00, S/Rate 49.18.

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