Du Plessis misses Zimbabwe test, de Villiers leads South Africa

While there was an air of doom and gloom about the 2005 side the current Zimbabwe squad arrives in South Africa with its spirits lifted

"I think for the first time in a long time we have got a pretty well-balanced team in terms of what we have from the seam and spin departments".

There were 40 overs remaining before the close, all to be bowled under floodlights, when the Zimbabweans started their second innings against a team consisting mainly of players from South Africa's second tier of first-class cricket.

Faf du Plessis will not be involved in maiden pink ball Test in four day format.

With South Africa hosting Zimbabwe on Boxing Day in the world's first four-day Test match under modified conditions which sees a day's play extended, Australia could well be the next nation to try it's hand at the shortened form of Test cricket. It could have been worse for the hosts if not for Heath Streak's breezy 53, as the score read 84/7 at one stage. Dale Steyn, the champion fast bowler, will also look to show that he is still a force to reckon with as he makes his much-awaited return from a shoulder injury. "I believe he has the potential to become the best captain South Africa has seen so far", he said.

Few would deny that Andy Flower has been the greatest willow wielder to play for Zimbabwe, and the Harare Sports Club in September 2001 was witness to what was arguably his finest performance.

Zimbabwe warmed up for the fixture with a five-wicket loss to a South African Invitation XI in Paarl, a game that was played under lights.

Flower shared in a fourth-wicket stand of 186 with Hamilton Masakadza (85) to palliate the desperate situation and proceeded to bat for almost ten hours, finishing unbeaten on a gallant 199 out of a total of 391 this time.

Zimbabwe named two debutants. Smith declared overnight at 3/340, piled at an astonishing run rate of 6.80.

De Villiers' last outing in Test cricket was a forgettable experience as he registered a pair of ducks, first dismissed by Stuart Broad and then by James Anderson. Steyn isn't playing. It looks like he is down with viral infection.

Cape Town - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis is a doubtful starter for the four-day day/night Test against Zimbabwe, starting on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth, with a decision on who will skipper the side yet to decided.

Piedt's match returns of 8/152 earned him the man of the match award, and are the best bowling figures by a South African spinner on Test debut.



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