ODI series preview: Zimbabwe v South Africa

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What the one-off Test showed, this three-ODI series is likely to continue: Zimbabwe are not going to be pushovers against opposition considerably superior in the International Cricket Council's rankings.

What the one-off Test showed, this three-ODI series is likely to continue: Zimbabwe are not going to be pushovers against opposition considerably superior in the International Cricket Council's rankings.

So-called minnows will always fancy upsets in the shorter formats of the international game. Briefer periods of sustained pressure, larger margin for error and isolated individual performances are important factors in unhinging giants.

The hosts have been boosted by the return to fitness of seamer Brian Vitori, while all-rounder Elton Chigumbura's second tenure as limited-overs captain promises more than the first.

The Proteas, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to measure the bench strength. With Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel rested, now is the time to impress for the uncapped Mthokozisi Shezi, recalled Marchant de Lange and company.

Life without the recent retiree Jacques Kallis, too, begins. The talented Rilee Rossouw will probably be the latest pretender trialled at number three in the batting order – and sports all the facets to succeed.

This affair, ostensibly, is a curtainraiser for the upcoming tri-series with Australia. Zimbabwe and South Africa will be well aware of the bigger challenge ahead – and therefore can't afford to dillydally.

<b>Key Men</b><br>Batsman <b>Vusi Sibanda</b> has been the subject of criticism and praise this year, unable to string together a lasting stretch of form. On an individual and team front, he can't afford to fail this month.

With the young Beuran Hendricks sidelined by injury, all-rounder <b>Wayne Parnell's</b> left-arm seam will return to the fore. Somewhat of a senior bowler now, he must lead Shezi and de Lange by example.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2010: Third ODI: South Africa won by 272 runs in Benoni<br>2010: Second ODI: South Africa won by eight wickets in Potchefstroom<br>2010: First ODI: South Africa won by 64 runs in Bloemfontein<br>2009: Second ODI: South Africa won by 212 runs in Centurion<br>2009: First ODI: South Africa won by 45 runs in Benoni

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Zimbabwe:</i> Elton Chigumbura (captain), Sikandar Raza, Luke Jongwe, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Neville Madziva, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingi Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Vus Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.

<i>South Africa:</i> AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, Marchant de Lange, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 17 August<br>Second ODI: Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 19 August<br>Third ODI: Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 21 August

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