Pakistan wary of Zimbabwe’s all-round threat

Pakistan won the first ODI of the series in Rawalpindi on Friday by 26 runs, but not before Zimbabwe gave them a real scare in the run-chase.


Pakistan v Zimbabwe, 2nd ODI
Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi

If there is one takeaway for Zimbabwe from the first ODI, it is that they can do much better than they have done in the country previously. In 20 ODIs before Friday, Zimbabwe had 18 losses in Pakistan in the fifty-overs format. However, they punched well above their weight on Friday to push the hosts to the brink.

With all to play for in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, Wesley Madhevere’s all-round showing, the performance of the spinners and Brendan Taylor’s form will all be massive positives for Zimbabwe.

Pakistan, on the other hand, will be buoyed by a winning start to Baba Azam’s captaincy reign. While the skipper did not quite click, there were promising performances from Haris Sohail and Imad Wasim with the bat.

Shaheen Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz were impactful with the ball, particularly in the death overs. Zimbabwe’s spinners bowled with good purpose in the middle overs and that’s something Pakistan might want to replicate. Ifthikar Ahmed’s part-time spin wasn’t used on Friday, but he could have a role with the ball with the wicket expected to slow down.

Remember the last time:

In 2015 when they toured Pakistan, Zimbabwe had started the ODI series on a similar positive note. Chasing 376 then, Zimbabwe managed to get closer than most expected, but fell short by 41 runs. They went on to lose the series 0-2 with one game washed out. This time around, they will hope for a better result after a good showing first up.

What they said:

Chamu Chibhabha (Zimbabwe captain): “We did everything right except getting over the line. We need to find a way to get over the line. It’s more of a psychological thing. It’s not about coming out and hitting more balls in the nets, it’s just a psychological thing, the belief that we can do it.”

Babar Azam (Pakistan captain): “We will reflect on where we went wrong [in the first ODI] and come back strong in the next game. The plan is to give chances to youngsters and utilise them as much as we can. In the next few games there could be a few changes in the team.”

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