Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Pakistan have all bases covered as Zimbabwe come calling

30 Oct 2020, 00:43 GMT+10

Zimbabwe LLLLL

In the spotlight

Usman Qadir finds a way to dodge a Pakistan cap through one misfortune or another, but that run may come to an end on Friday. With Shadab Khan ruled out of the first ODI, Qadir is the only available legspinner in the squad, and should the surface look accommodating, may well be in line for a call-up. Called up for a T20I tour of Australia a year ago only to warm the bench, and set to play the third T20I against Bangladesh in January only for the game to be washed out, Qadir has had to patiently wait his turn. He's built up game time on the Pakistan domestic circuit, and was thoroughly serviceable in the National T20 Cup earlier this month, taking 10 wickets at a strike rate of 18.6. He may have a long way to go to seriously challenge Shadab, but getting a game would be a start.

It is unlikely to imagine a referendum in the UK five years ago having an impact on this Zimbabwe side, but the UK's vote to leave the European Union is what ensures Blessing Muzarabani is here in Pakistan. With the Kolpak loophole closed, his time at Northamptonshire ended earlier this month, and it's a sign of how highly he's rated that he finds himself thrown straight into the national side. A lot may have happened since, but it's worth restating what a colossal loss he was deemed to be for Zimbabwe when he opted for the Kolpak route after the side's heartbreaking failure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup. He was instrumental in taking Zimbabwe to the brink, holding his nerve in final-over thrillers against Afghanistan and Scotland, and with two years of experience in the UK, should return a much-improved bowler.

Team news

Pakistan's line-up is hard to predict what with them not have played ODI cricket since October 2018, but Shadab's absence could open up a place for Qadir to make his debut. Khushdil Shah, likewise, could get his first ODI cap, while conditions may dictate whether Faheem Ashraf or Imad Wasim get the nod.

Pakistan (possible): 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam (capt), 4 Haris Sohail, 5 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Khushdil Shah 8 Imad Wasim/Faheem Ashraf, 9 Haris Rauf, 10 Usman Qadir/Musa Khan, 11 Shaheen Afridi

Zimbawe (possible): 1 Brian Chari/Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, 2 Chamu Chibhabha (capt), 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Brendan Taylor (wk), 5 Sean Williams/Wesley Madhevere, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Sikandar Raza, 8 Wellington Masakadza, 9 Carl Mumba, 10 Donald Tiripano, 11 Blessing Muzarabani

Pitch and conditions

The pitch has a tinge of grass, so seamers could find themselves in the game. Dry, sunny weather means there's no threat of interruption, while an early start means dew shouldn't be a factor either.

Stats and triviaQuotes

"I keep insisting we can't afford to take any side lightly, and Zimbabwe present a challenge we have to take seriously"

Babar Azam is taking nothing for granted this series

"We've been a team that doesn't really quite get over the line, and it's something that we've talked about. There's a lot more desperation to win. And that is the mentality at the moment. And considering it's super league games, each game that we play is going to be very crucial for us"

Zimbabwe captain Chamu Chibhabha wants a shift in mentality ahead of the series

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