We head into the finals of the Twenty20 Tri series with two well matched sides. For a series, perceived by many as one-sided, this has definitely been a week of exciting group games between three sides that fought hard to make it to the finals. The series has been so well contested that the finalists had to be decided by the outcome of the final game of the group stages. As a matter of fact, all three participants ended up with 8 points on the table. The South Africans and the home side Zimbabwe went through on account of a better net run rate.
June 24, Harare Sports Club, Harare
Starting Time: 1300 Local Time (1100 GMT time)
The pitch at the Harare Sports Club is a slow and dry turner. However, the last couple of games has seen the pace bowlers amongst the wickets.
There’s been no indication about a change in the sides for both these teams.
South Africa, who were struggling to get the right combination all week, seem to have discovered it today. Skipper, Hashim Amla who seemed to be pleased with his side today, said at the presentation, ” I am very happy with the performance today, the fielding was better and the bowling improved a lot. Richard (Levi) gave us a good start and we just took it from there. The pitch has improved over the tournament and we just need to improve this form into tomorrow.”
Zimbabwe, on the other hand may have lost their last two games against Bangladesh and South Africa. But they are no push-overs in the finals tomorrow. They might make a couple of minor changes in their side but the core of their team will still revolve around the batting of Masakadza and Taylor, and bowling of Cremer and Mpofu.
C Mpofu vs W Parnell
The Zimbabwean seamer has been the pick of the bowlers for the home team. He has bagged crucial wickets consistently for his side and has controlled the run flow. He has a tally of 6 wickets in this series with an economy rate of 6.71. He goes into the finals as the strike bowler with the responsibility of seeing the backs of the South African openers early on in the innings.
His counterpart, Wayne Parnell did not exactly return with great bowling figures in the first two games. But he is bowling with great rhythm for the last two, where he bagged 2 for 18 against Bangladesh yesterday, and 3 for 16 against Zimbabwe today. Man of the match in today’s game, he definitely seems to be getting better with every match and will definitely continue his good form into the finals.
R Levi vs H Masakadza
These two openers hold the key to giving their respective sides a good start in the finals. Masakadza has been in top form all through this series and has scored runs against both the opposition sides. An extremely versatile batsman, he can adjust his game according to the situation. We have seen him hold an innings together with a steady knock , and also seen him bat at a strike rate of over 150 when the situation called for it. He remains the key batsman for Zimbabwe if they are to reach a good total.
The South African opener Richard Levi, was not played in the previous game against Bangladesh, but has cemented his place in the side for the finals with a knock of 54 off 30 balls in today’s game. He has been a recent addition to the Proteas T20 side, but has in his brief stint proved to be one of the most dangerous openers in this format. If he continues where he left off today, Zimbabwe may very well end up as runner ups.
How the two teams stand
Although it has not gained official status, this series is a good preparation for all three teams for the T20 World Cup to be held in September. This mini series will help these sides in discovering their best playing squad for the World cup and also gives them an opportunity to fill up any chinks in their armour.
South Africa has toyed with several combinations throughout the tournament. This has helped them uncover some young talent such as Chris Morris, Farhaan Behardien and Dane Vilas. To add to it, Wayne Parnell has found his rhythm back during the last two games and is likely to carry his new found confidence into the World Cup.
The home side has been nothing short of impressive. They started out as major underdogs and in the process of proving themsevles to be a dangerous side, they have helped themselves find a steady playing XI with the likes of Mpofu, Masakadza, Cremer and skipper Brendan Taylor.
Both these teams are in the same Group at the T20 world cup as well. A winner in tomorrow’s finals will hold a definite edge over the other in the World Cup encounter.