GIVEN Zimbabwe’s lowly ranking and the myriad problems infecting its cricket, South Africa could have been forgiven for resting key players in the one-off Test but have instead stuck with the 15-man squad that recently clinched a series victory in Sri Lanka.
That means a Zimbabwe side, who have not played a Test in almost a year, are set to come up against the best and most feared bowler in the world in Dale Steyn as well as top-ranked batsman AB de Villiers and top-ranked all-rounder Vernon Philander.
“Whether you’re playing Australia or Zimbabwe, the pressure is always there. We are here to play our best brand of cricket,” South Africa captain Hashim Amla promised on arrival in Harare.
“My firm belief is that you don’t take anything for granted. I’ve come here to play Test cricket as intensely as we played even in Sri Lanka,” he added.
The expectation, therefore, is that the Proteas will inflict a similar defeat to the ones Zimbabwe suffered back in 2005 – the last time that the sides encountered each other in Test cricket.
Not only did Zimbabwe lose both Tests by an innings but the first match ended inside two days and the second lasted just three.
Tough test … Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo and captain Brendan Taylor