Hamilton: Seeking to shed the 'chokers' tag yet again, formidable South Africa begin their cricket World Cup campaign against minnows Zimbabwe in a Group B match here tomorrow.
The Proteas, one of the tournament favourites, will start as overwhelming favourites but tomorrow's match could turn out to be tricky as Zimbabwe have dished out strong performances against New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the World Cup warm-up games.
Zimbabwe reduced New Zealand to 157 for seven in their first warm-up game before rain intervened and then upset Sri Lanka in their second practice match by seven wickets.
There is also past history as Zimbabwe recorded a shock win over South Africa at the 1999 World Cup in England.
South Africa have faltered at crucial junctures of the World Cup since their re-admission in international cricket in 1991 and they have never gone beyond the semifinal stage.
Led by the swashbuckling AB de Villiers, who hit a world record 31-ball hundred against the West Indies last month, South Africa appear to be the best balanced side with depth in batting, guile in bowling besides top-class fielding.
In Hashim Amla, the Proteas have the most prolific batsman in the world who will open the innings with the fast-improving Quinton de Kock followed by Faf du Plessis, de Villiers and Jean-Paul Duminy.
The pace attack led by lethal Dale Steyn and backed by Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott is one of the best in the world and, with two quality spinners in Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso, they pose a threat to any side.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, have struggled in the recent past, with a 5-0 ODI thrashing in Bangladesh last year not to speak about the turmoil in their cricket board.
But Australian Dav Whatmore's taking over at the turn of the year seemed to have given Zimbabwe a new lease of life. Whatmore guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996 and coached Bangladesh to the Super Eights in 2007.
If they can maintain their warm-up form, Zimbabwe will look to emulate that shock win over South Africa at the 1999 World Cup in England, when Neil Johnson hit 76 and took three key wickets at Chelmsford.