South Africa's bowlers did a sterling job in the series opener and the hosts are 1-0 up, but there are questions over their batting. In Bloemfontein's Mangaung Oval, they may have the perfect stage to set right some of their batting errors and get the middle order flowing smoothly.

An untested middle order clearly got the memo about playing aggressive cricket, but in the first ODI their application in conditions that made strokeplay dangerous went awry. Only Heinrich Klaasen seemed to have figured out just how to be positive against the extra bounce in Kimberley.

South Africa's bowling, meanwhile, appears in starkly fine fettle. Kagiso Rabada bowled a little within himself on Sunday, but was still effective, while Lungi Ngidi showed that he could be a menace even on a fairly slow pitch. Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder did exactly what was asked of them in backing up the new-ball pair, while Imran Tahir whizzed through his variations to clean up the tail.

Zimbabwe's batsmen will also be pleased that South Africa's attack might be defanged a little by batting-friendly conditions in Bloemfontein. The visitors do at least also have a little more experience of Bloemfontein than they had of Kimberley before the series opener.

The Mangaung Oval is one of the few grounds in South Africa where Zimbabwe have a history in all three international formats. Almost twenty years ago, this was the ground where Zimbabwe played their first Test match on South Africa soil, and more recently Zimbabwe's batsmen had left with happy memories of T20 and ODI cricket here. Eight years ago, Brendan Taylor cracked a career-best 145* here under lights. Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura were all also part of the XI in that game, and Masakadza has a particular connection to the city.

Sixteen years ago, Masakadza enrolled at the University of the Free State to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at their Bloemfontein campus, and must have cut a somewhat unlikely figure at his Afrikaans hostel, Vishuis. But by all accounts he enjoyed his time here, studying with the help of a cricket bursary organised by Ewie Cronje, father of Hansie, and when he returned to the city for the first time since finishing university with the national side in October 2010, he cracked 72 in a T20I against a bowling attack that included his old university team-mate, Ryan McLaren.

Zimbabwe desperately need Masakadza to rekindle some of that varsity sparkle at the top of the order. South Africa, too, need more out of their batting unit.

Form guide

South Africa WLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

Zimbabwe LLLLL