South Africa v Zimbabwe – Twenty20 International Series Preview

Fresh from finishing off a 3-0 ODI series sweep against their African neighbours Zimbabwe on Saturday, the South African men’s team now face a three game T20 International series against the same opponents.

Like the ODI series, the matches are to be played at some of South Africa’s “lesser” provincial grounds – the first at Buffalo Park in East London on Tuesday, and the second and third at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom and Willowmoore Park in Benoni.

Above: Buffalo Park (East London) and Senwes Park (Potchefstroom)

Although Zimbabwe showed some fight in the ODI series, especially the final game in Paarl, the Proteas will once again be strong favourites. Zimbabwe have lost their last eight T20 internationals dating back to June 2016, leading to them being ranked 12th in the format, behind Scotland. By contrast, South Africa are ranked sixth, although themselves are coming off a T20 loss to Sri Lanka in August, and a 2-1 series defeat to India earlier this year.

Zimbabwe have never actually beaten their neighbours in the shortest format, although they have only played three games together, so not a great smaple size. In fact this series will double the number of times the side have met!

Zimbabwe will once again have some of their most important players back in the squad, including Brendan Taylor, but are still missing former captain Graeme Cremer and all-rounder Sikander Raza following their falling out with the governing body.

For their part, South Africa will use the series to further explore their squad depth, and could hand debuts to two uncapped players in their squad – Gihahn Cloete and Rassie van der Dussen.

Aside from the potential debutants, there are a number of significant milestones for us to keep an eye on as the week unfolds.

Firstly, a little trivia in that the third game in Benoni will be the 700th Twenty20 International match with full ICC status worldwide. That number is likely to grow rapidly from 1 January 2019 of course, when all T20s between associate or full members of the ICC will be granted full T20 status.

Hamilton Masakadza (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe’s skipper is already his country’s leading T20 appearance maker and run scorer, and needs just six runs to reach 1,500 runs in the format.

JP Duminy (South Africa)

All rounder Duminy, if selected for two of the three series games, will overtake the retired AB de Villiers as the Proteas’ leading T20 international appearance maker. He is currently on 77 caps to de Villiers’ 78.

Imran Tahir (South Afrca)

One of the best short format bowlers in the world, Imran Tahir is just tow arms-outstretched wheeling celebrations away from becoming the Proteas’ leading wicket taker in the T20 format, overtaking Dale Steyn’s 58 scalps.

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