BULAWAYO — Zimbabwe will demand improvement in the second one-day international (ODI) against South Africa as they look to level the series.
The two nations will play their part in an ODI tri-series involving Australia that begins later this month, but first have their own three-game rubber to contest.
And the Proteas started brighter, recording a convincing 93-run win in Bulawayo on Sunday thanks to an excellent batting performance.
Hashim Amla top scored with an unbeaten 122 while Quinton de Kock (63) and Faf du Plessis (59) also chipped in as South Africa hit 309-3 from their 50 overs.
Zimbabwe never looked likely in their response, despite half-centuries from Hamilton Masakadza and Stuart Williams, as they were bowled out for 216 with one ball to spare.
It means the hosts need to win to keep the series alive in Bulawayo today and Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura would be hoping for an improved batting performance.
“Unfortunately we lost too many wickets early on,” Chigumbura said.
“To bring it back from there will always be hard – especially against a team like South Africa.”
Chigumbura is under an injury cloud after limping throughout his 36, but the skipper is confident of overcoming a thigh problem.
“I injured my quad, but I think I will be fine,” he added.
“I just pulled it. I think I will be fine for the next game.”
Zimbabwe struggled with the ball as seamer Neville Madziva and all-rounder Luke Jongwe faltered on their international debuts.
Opener Shingi Masakadza (0-77 off 10 overs) also leaked runs, particularly against Amla and De Kock, who put on 109 runs for the first wicket inside 21 overs.
Seamers Tinashe Panyangara and Brian Vitori are likely to return to the Zimbabwe side in one of the two remaining games, and with opener Vusi Sibanda struggling for form, the hosts may consider a recall for Sikander Raza Butt following his recovery from a fractured thumb.
Middle-order batsmen Malcolm Waller and Timycen Maruma will also be in the frame after Chigumbura highlighted the top order as a cause for concern.
“Wickets in hand is going to be key if we want to win these games, so on the batting side, we need to improve,” Chigumbura said.
Man-of-the-match Amla spoke of his delight at batting with the aggressive De Kock at the top of the South Africa order. “I think we complement each other quite well,” Amla said.
“He’s a fun batsman to bat with and often if he gets to a good start, I am able to play my natural game.”
South Africa have won six of their last seven completed ODIs.