Zimbabwe urged to step up

ZimbabweZimbabwe coach Steve Mangongo admits his side need to make big improvements as they prepare for the daunting task of taking on South Africa in a one-off Test on August 9 (Zimbabwe 16/1, South Africa 1/7, draw 13/2 – Match Prices).

The southern African neighbours are set to clash at the Harare Sports Club later this week in a match that looks one-sided on paper, with the Proteas ranked as the top Test team and Zimbabwe down in ninth with only Bangladesh below them.

South Africa have rested some of their top stars for the encounter, with pace trio Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander all getting some time off before the triangular one-day series begins.

But they will still be a formidable unit, with talented batsmen and bowlers looking to make a name for themselves and pushing for a place in the side when the stars return.

While AB de Villiers’ side is right at the top of the Test tree, Zimbabwe have only played nine five-day games in the past nine years as they try to come to terms with the political turmoil that has rocked the sport in the country.

However, they did manage a creditable 1-1 draw with Pakistan in September last year but could only manage a 2-2 draw with lowly Afghanistan in a one-day series back in July.

Things are about to get a lot tougher and Mangongo pulled no punches in his assessment of exactly what his men need to work on.

“From the bowling front, we were inconsistent, we bowled below par,” he said. “On the batting side we looked to play too many big shots and failed to rotate the strike and it was an embarrassment losing to an associate nation.

“Our fielding was very pathetic hence we need to up our entire game if we are to compete against the best.”

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