Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st T20, Harare August 22, 2013

Zimbabwe bring focus back to cricket

27

Match facts

Friday, August 23, 2013
Start time 1330 local (1130 GMT)

Big Picture

In a relatively quiet month for international cricket, save for the ongoing marquee Test series in England, Zimbabwe and Pakistan have managed to shoehorn a series to fill a gap in the calendar. Shortly after the series was confirmed came the off-field distraction involving the Zimbabwe players and the cricket board. A familiar pay dispute led to fears over whether the tour would get under way but, thankfully, the players made peace with the board with the formation of a players union.

The dispute, however, disrupted the hosts' practice schedules and though they have since resumed training, it remains to be seen if it has been sufficient. This is in contrast to the preparations ahead of the recent home series against India. The players trained for ten weeks, but it wasn't enough to stretch an experimental Indian side. The batting was the biggest let down, followed by the fielding. The result was a 5-0 thrashing. It will only get tougher against Pakistan, who're playing full strength despite the low-profile nature of the tour.

Prosper Utseya, the offspinner, has insisted that the players are in the right frame of mind. "We have managed to put that [contractual issue] behind now and some of the players have been offered contracts," Utseya told the Zimbabwe Herald. "Obviously I am not sure what they've got, but they looked happy. It is good that ZC have managed to meet us halfway going into the series."

Series wins in the West Indies have given Pakistan confidence after the gloom of the Champions Trophy. The performances of the youngsters in the two T20s in the West Indies, including Umar Amin and Zulfiqar Babar, should have pleased them immensely. A few players have been busy in the Caribbean Premier League, though, among them, only Mohammad Hafeez features in the upcoming T20s. The rest of the squad have been training in Lahore.

Form guide

Pakistan WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Zimbabwe LWLLL

Players to watch

Sikandar Raza is likely to play his first game against the country of his birth, but that alone shouldn't be the only talking point about him. Raza's 82 against India was the highest individual score by a Zimbabwe batsman in the series and though his form fell away in the remaining games, it marked him down as a player to watch. What Raza needs is consistent scores to keep his place in the XI.

Zulfiqar Babar had to wait till he was 34 to get his first opportunity for Pakistan. The left-arm spinner was picked in the T20 squad for the West Indies and had a dream debut, taking 3 for 23, but his job didn't end there. Batting at No. 8, Babar had the honour of facing the final ball of the match with one needed to win. He finished the game with a swagger, hitting a six. He ended the two-match series with five wickets and the expectations off him would have increased.

Team news

Zimbabwe trimmed their practice squad to 15 on the eve of the series. There were no surprises in the squad.*

Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Sikandar Raza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sean Williams, 7 Shingi Masakadza, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Natsai M'shangwe, 10 Brian Vitori, 11 Tinashe Panyangara

Pakistan are without Umar Akmal for the series, after he was withdrawn after suffering a seizure while flying in the West Indies. Sarfraz Ahmed was named the replacement wicketkeeper.

Pakistan (likely): 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 3 Ahmed Shehzad, 4 Umar Amin, 5 Haris Sohail, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Zulfiqar Babar, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Asad Ali

Stats and trivia

  • In the last bilateral series between these sides in Zimbabwe, in 2011, Pakistan won both T20s
  • Shahid Afridi needs 84 more for 1000 T20 runs. Mohammad Hafeez is the only Pakistan batsman to pass that milestone. Umar Akmal is second with 929.

Quotes

"Their batsmen are prone to cracking under pressure and that is what we will have to do if we are to get the better of them. We really need to put them under pressure and play smart cricket."
Zimbabwe's Prosper Utseya

* - 15.30 GMT, August 22, 2013 - Story updated following Zimbabwe's squad announcement

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • android_user on August 23, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Pakistan is a killing t20 side 8n the whole world. They will crush Zimbabwe with big margins in all t20 and ODI

  • dummy4fb on August 23, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    long live pakistan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • keptalittlelow on August 23, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Where is Hamad Azam? Is Harris Sohail a Twenty20 player? Saeed Ajmal should have been rested when Zulfiqar Babar is in the team.

  • wrenx on August 23, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Why is Zulfiqar Babar described as a "youngster" and then as having to wait until he was 34 to make his debut - can't be both!

  • dummy4fb on August 23, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    i think they should not play saeed ajmal,haris sohail and asad ali....sohaib maqsood,anwar ali and junaid khan should be played

  • calcu on August 23, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    It is certainly not going to be a cakewalk for pak. They will struggle sgainst ZIM and are likely to lose atleast 1 match.

  • dummy4fb on August 23, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    where is junaid khan and mohammad irfan, they are the second and third best bowlers for pakistan (first being ajmal). Sohail Tanvir and Asad Ali should make way for them. Haris Sohail should also be dropped for Sohaib Maqsood as he is only an ODI and test player having a strike rate of only 82 (averaged). Even without these changes though pakistan should crush Zimbabwe.

  • Vilander on August 23, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    problem for prosper u is that, its difficut to see zim scoring more than 50 odd runs against the pak bowling lineup..if they score anywhere near 200 they have a shot though.

  • ZCFOutkast on August 23, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    Great to see Panyangara there. If Mpofu doesn't recover we know we'll have a top experienced seamer to lead Vitori&Shingi during Tests. He should be rusty though and unfit matchwise, but hopefully he comes right. Maybe Chatara ahead of Shingi in the first game, since Shingi will also be rusty matchwise. Perhaps keep him there since we could use the runs down the order.

    Malcolm Waller again! Who does this guy know? Trick question! I think Williams has already proved that for all my respect of him, this format is just not for him, Maruma ahead of Malcolm it is then. Maruma can comfortaby be the next 2nd spinner

    Raza, Hami, Vusi, Taylor, Williams, Maruma, Elton, Utseya, Shingi, Panyangara, Vitori.

    Author, I can't believe you left out Chigumbura from you probable lineup!!!

  • SaadRocx on August 23, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Just put young players in the team against Zimbabwe in T20 games..Lets see what happen..Even if they lose Just have confidence in them and give them more chances.

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