Whatmore wants Pakistan to guard against complacency
Dav Whatmore, the Pakistan coach, has asked his team to guard against complacency when they take on Zimbabwe, who are unranked in Tests, and placed 10th in the ODI rankings. Pakistan have strong records in both Tests and ODIs in Zimbabwe.
"The danger that I see anyway is complacency," Whatmore said at the NCA in Lahore. "We don't want to be complacent in any of our makeup, including our preparation. We may be playing Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, but these are still three-four very important matches for Pakistan.
"There is a bit of difference in rankings, but as you know cricket has some uncertain glories in the game. We can't take anything for granted; we take one game at a time. We rather think about taking one game at a time rather than (thinking about clean sweep). We always like to be in competition and we have an opportunity to play some Test matches and ODIs as well as T20 games. We finish with Test matches and we bounce into the South Africans (in the UAE)."
Pakistan have played eight Tests in Zimbabwe, and after losing the first one by an innings, they won six out of the seven following ones. In the 15 ODIs that have been played between the two teams in Zimbabwe, only once has the home side managed to sneak a win. In their last tour of Zimbabwe in 2011, Pakistan won every game they played.
While Zimbabwe players boycotted their training ahead of the series, Pakistan players, except the ones playing in the Caribbean Premier League, have been training indoors at the Bob Woolmer centre due to rains. The team had an injury scare when Sohaib Maqsood, who is part of the T20 squad, injured his back. Whatmore, however, remained optimistic about Maqsood's fitness.
"Sohaib Maqsood is a new player who has been selected in T20 format. At the moment he is battling a little bit of fitness but we expect him to be okay by tomorrow evening," Whatmore said. "I am happy for him that he is selected, but he has to prove his fitness within the next day and a half."
Pakistan have experimented with their team combination since Whatmore's appointment as head coach, and he said that the inconsistent results are not a direct reflection of the policy. He said the frequent changes come with their pros and cons, but everyone has been working hard. "Sometimes new players are exciting to work with," he said. "When new players are picked, it does change a little bit the balance and the approach, getting used to them, getting them use to me. There's a bit of give and take; some advantages and disadvantages, but on the whole I need to do a job and I do it to the best of my ability."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here