Ed Hawkins previews game two from Potchefstroom on Friday night and makes the case for holding form in the South African hitter...
"Without Tahir, South Africa could have been in a spot of bother. The 164 they posted was hardly overwhelming"
South Africa v Zimbabwe
Friday 12 October 17.00
Live on Sky Sports
So confident are South Africa of beating Zimbabwe, they have rested their match winner from game one. Imran Tahir, who took five wickets, has been given time off with his spinner understudy Tabraiz Shamsi asked to step up to the plate.
Tahir, a wizard against some of the best teams, felt so sorry for the Zimbabweans that he offered a tutorial in East London out on the pitch when the crowds and the commentators and pretty much everyone else had drifted off into the night.
Without Tahir, South Africa could have been in a spot of bother. The 164 they posted was hardly overwhelming and Zimbabwe had been on the front foot when Quinton de Kock was second out with the score on 11. Faf Du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, a half-century on debut, and David Miller had to ride to the rescue.
Mavuta a rising star
The 34-run defeat for Zimbabwe was their fourth in succession on tour. But that's nothing. In all formats it was their 37th consecutive loss to South Africa. It is such an abysmal record that one wonders what the point of these fixtures is. Answers on a postcard.
Are Zimbabwe getting any closer to an upset? Well, their bowling remains a challenge. They have been pretty consistent in the field, creating pressure and taking wickets. They will feel that South Africa have not really hurt them yet. Young leggie, Brandon Mavuta, took four for 19 in East London and was one of those picking up tips from Tahir.
But their batting has been a major disappointment. Brendon Taylor, their best batter, is having a glum time. He got a start in game one but couldn't go on. Mavuta wasn't too shabby with the bat but the game was pretty much up when they were reduced to 70 for seven, despite some late hitting.
Wicket looks good for batters
On the highveld in Potchefstroom Mavuta, and Shamsi for that matter, might find grip and spin harder to come by. In the one T20 international played there last year, South Africa smashed 224 against Bangladesh. The visiting spinners had a tough time bar Shakib-al-Hasan. There is a slight toss bias domestically with six of the last ten won by the side batting first.
Zims an ultimate gamble
Zimbabwe have been trimmed ever so slightly to 6/16.8 for game two with South Africa 1/61.17. It is difficult to claim they are value, however, considering that terrible head-to-head.
It is possible to hang a bet on the rationale: 'well, they have to win sometime' and if that's your bag, so be it. A Zimbabwe win might look like them batting first, getting to 150-160 (that is the million-dollar question) and then defending with South Africa's batting a little shaky. Remember, there's no Hashim Amla.
Keep faith in De Kock
We were on De Kock for top runscorer in East London because he is, statistically, a 2/1 shot. Betfair Sportsbook go 5/2 so it would be wrong of us not to retain faith. He failed in game one but that is the life of a pinch-hitter. Miller, who lashed a ton against Bangladesh in that match year ago at the venue, is 6/1.
Tahir is still listed by Betfair Sportsbook at 7/4 for top South Africa bowler. So there is obvious value until the market is corrected. Shamsi is 4/1, although the way the Zims went after him last time and in the ODI series does not inspire confidence. We like Lungi Ngidi at 10/3, though, and he could have little to beat. Both De Kock and Ngidi bets pass the Hawk Eye true value test.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l