After the one-sided T20 final played between Zimbabwe and South Africa during the PRAN RFL final almost a month ago, South Africa's cricket selectors pulled no punches when they announced their squad to play Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka A in the ongoing 50-over Triangular Series.
Up till now, SA A have been unbeaten in the tournament though they were stretched when playing Zimbabwe A in their first round robin match when they squeaked home by two wickets. Had Zimbabwe A held on to their catches and fielded better, the outcome may have been different.
South Africa A have a number of players who at some point in their career have played for, and more importantly, have also made runs or taken wickets at the highest level for the Proteas. Zimbabwe A also have a few players who have had international experience. The likes of Craig Ervine, Shingi Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and Vusi Sibanda have played more than their fair share of international cricket.
But what has been very encouraging to observe is the promise shown by some of the younger players such as Richard Muzhange, Tinotenda Mutombodzi and Tafadzwa Kamungozi. Both Kamungozi and Mutombodzi were hugely instrumental in restricting a powerful and experienced South African A batting line up to what would have been a disappointing total of 215 in Wednesdays game when South Africa A looked set for 300.
In the past, bowling has always been a concern but at the moment, the bowlers have done Zimbabwe A proud with their consistency. The area of concern however most definetly lies with the batting.
There is a lot of fire power and potential in the batting line up but throughout the series, there has been a certain amount of apprehension shown by all the batsmen.
Yes, there has been some good bowling at times, but all the batsmen have been very reluctant to express themselves and to up the tempo. Strong teams such as South Africa are very good at tightening the screws while applying pressure, but they are also only human and once you take the game to them by playing attacking and aggressive cricket, they will begin to feel the pressure like any other team.
So taking advantage of the power plays when batting and rotating the strike by running hard between the wickets are am absolute must if Zimbabwe A have any hope of winning the final. Tinotenda Mawoyo started off very nicely by scoring 66 and 52 in the first two games but the slight concern is the number of balls he faced when scoring his runs. 102 balls against Sri Lanka A and 82 against South Africa A which meant that in all, he scored 118 runs off 186 balls at a strike rate of 63-4 which is a fraction low in the one day format.
But whatever the outcome of Saturdays final, Zimbabwe can be very proud of the fact that both the national team as well as the A team have made it to the finals of their respective tournaments.