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The Preview by Firdose Moonda
September 15, 2011
September 16, Harare Sports Club
Start time 1400 (1200GMT)
After two weeks of hard grind, the fun part of the tour has arrived, with two Twenty20 matches to end the series between Zimbabwe and Pakistan. The hosts won't be taking things too lightly, after their four defeats (in the one-off Test and the three ODIs) so far and will want to show Pakistan that they can compete with and beat them. They will also be anxious to turn around a mini-run of poor form ahead of an important home-and-away series against New Zealand.
Zimbabwe are not an experienced outfit in T20 cricket and last played an international match in October 2010 against South Africa. They have, however, revolutionised their domestic setup with a sizeable sponsorship for the T20 competition and a number of international players taking part. They have taken enormous pride in that particular tournament and will be keen to show that the efforts that went into that have not gone to waste.
Pakistan have already wrapped up the majority of the tour but to go home without conceding a single defeat would be a significant achievement for them. Besides the clean sweep, they have another important thing to keep in mind - Waqar Younis has entered his last weekend as the national coach and will want to leave on a high.
All the players that Pakistan brought in or re-introduced into their line-up, barring Shoaib Malik, have impressed and with the most expressive format of the game left to play, they will want to show their flair as the tour draws to a close.
Form guide (most recent first)Zimbabwe LLLLL
In the spotlight
The shortest format of the game relies on big hitters and Elton Chigumbura has been talked up as the Zimbabwean who can hit it the furthest. He unleashed some of his killer blows in the ODI series but was often left with too many to get off too few deliveries. Similar equations exist in T20 only to be defied and Chigumbura will have to be the man that defies them. Zimbabwe will have to box clever with him and consider giving him more time at the crease to show off his big shots.
Aizaz Cheema has not put a foot wrong so far on this tour. He has been the master of variation, mixing up his slower balls with yorkers and bouncers and showing the less experienced lot the only way to succeed on unresponsive surfaces. With the change in format, he could be a key component of Pakistan's success. Cheema has played 19 T20 matches domestically and has 27 wickets at an average of 18.40 and could prove a handful for Zimbabwe's tentative batsmen.
Zimbabwe have added Mr 194, Charles Coventry, to their squad and the little known allrounder Cephas Zhuwao to their squad. Coventry will likely slot into the middle order, perhaps even ahead of the likes of Taylor or Taibu. Malcolm Waller should pay the price for a number of promising starts without pushing on. Senior paceman Chris Mpofu should be brought back in, with Ray Price operating as the solitary spinner.
Zimbabwe: (probable) Vusi Sibanda, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (capt), Charles Coventry, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Elton Chigumbura, Ray Price, Brian Vitori, Kyle Jarvis, Chris Mpofu
For Pakistan, Rameez Raja should be given a chance after sitting out of the lone Test match and all three one-dayers. He would replace Imran Farhat in the opening slot. Asad Shafiq was impressive in his first outing and will be competing with Shoaib Malik for a spot, if Umar Akmal is going to be brought back. Yasir Shah also earned praise and may be retained instead of Saeed Ajmal while Sohail Khan and Junaid Khan may be given turns in the third seamer role.
Pakistan: (probable) Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat/Rameez Raja, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Shoaib Malik/Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Adnan Akmal (wk), Sohail Tanvir, Sohail Khan, Aizaz Cheema , Yasir Shah
Pitch and conditions
Brendan Taylor described the Harare pitch as "one of the best around," and it is, for batsmen. Batsmen will again have the freedom of the surface as shot making should not be problematic. Taylor also expects "balls to be flying everywhere," in the shortest form of the game, with a quick outfield and good carry expected. It will be tough work for the bowlers again but they are probably anticipating as much in a T20.
Stats and trivia
"It's a quick turnaround from the ODIs to the T20s so it's a good chance for the guys to showcase their talent and their skills."
Brendan Taylor, Zimbabwe captain, says the tight schedule will give his team an opportunity to bounce back quickly
"I am enjoying my cricket these days and I want to participate not only in batting, but in fielding and to be able to talk to the captain when we are under pressure and deliver my experience in all departments."
Pakistan's Man of the Series in the ODIs Younis Khan says he wants to continue playing an important role in the T20s
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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