Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Harare August 26, 2013

Zimbabwe need to inspire in dark times


Match facts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Start time 0930 local (0730 GMT)

Big Picture

What must a young, upcoming cricketer in Zimbabwe feel right now? He would be told he has to follow in the footsteps of the Flowers and the Streaks. What he sees are the Ervines and the Ballances, who choose to play cricket in another country. He would be told he has to derive inspiration from the exploits of the Zimbabwe side of the 90s. What he sees is a national team struggling to come up with even a single performance that would inspire him. He wants to believe his life can be all about cricket, only cricket. All around him, there are signs that show such a belief is just not sustainable in practice, at least in Zimbabwe.

He hears seniors talk about how difficult it is to provide for their families, he sees the national side threaten to stop playing till they are promised better wages. Two days after the board promises, he sees one of his heroes, fast bowler Kyle Jarvis, all of 24, quit international cricket so that he can play the game for counties and franchises and make some money while his body lasts. He spots a chilling sentence in Jarvis' media statement that thoroughly shakes him up, beliefs and all. "I informed my team-mates yesterday that I would be leaving and they were supportive and fully understood why I was doing this." Half-prepared to give up the game, he looks around for some hope, some sign that everything is not lost for Zimbabwe cricket, where those who choose to stay on support those who choose to leave.

And then Brendan Taylor and his men go down without a fight to Pakistan in the format in which they were supposed to have the best chance of causing an upset. Zimbabwe lost both Twenty20 internationals by considerable margins, their batsmen falling to the Pakistan spinners, who took a combined 4 for 67 and 5 for 75 in the two matches. If they couldn't compete with Pakistan for 40 overs, what chance do they stand over 100 overs?

If they couldn't stop Jarvis from leaving, what chance do they have of preventing others who give up on the country in the future? If this continues to happen, what chance more and more young, upcoming players won't quit either Zimbabwe or cricket much earlier than Jarvis did?

No money from the board, no fight from the players, no inspiration for the followers. Money won't come around for a while, but that should not stop Taylor and his men from putting up a fight. Especially in these dark times, that is the bare minimum the followers of Zimbabwe cricket deserve. We can all do with some inspiration.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Pakistan WWTLW
Zimbabwe LLLLL

Players to watch

As if all the responsibility of being Zimbabwe's leading batsman and captain wasn't enough, Brendan Taylor also dearly needs to rouse his side at this juncture, with both words as a leader and deeds with the bat. That this hasn't been a productive season for him won't help, but form as a constraint fades before the enormity of the task in front of him.

Nasir Jamshed was dropped from the Test side for this tour after just two games against a tough opponent like South Africa. He's spoken about how disappointed he felt, and how he plans to make a come back with good limited-overs performances. He could not do much in the T20s, now comes the format in which he's impressed the most.

Team news

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdur Rehman and Asad Shafiq are the additions to the Pakistan squad for the ODIs in place of Sohail Tanvir, Zulfiqar Babar and Sohaib Maqsood, although there was a case for keeping the inexperienced batsman Maqsood around the team for the ODI leg.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Asad Shafiq/Umar Amin, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Asad Ali/Abdur Rehman, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan

In another unfortunate reminder of how things are, Zimbabwe announced their 18-member ODI squad late on the eve of the first ODI, but it remains to be seen what XI features for the game.

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

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan have won 12 of the 15 ODIs they have played in Zimbabwe against the hosts. Zimbabwe were able to win one and tie another, but both those matches were back in 1995
  • Shahid Afridi has played 354 ODIs for Pakistan, and needs three games to overtake Wasim Akram. Only Inzamam-ul-Haq is in front after that, with 375 matches for his country

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    @ Doorie Qazi

    Be specific about how Indian monopoly on ICC which you can't see in near future. Indian scheduled their tour to ZIM within short time & in spite of hectic time table. How ICC could help in finding sponsorship for ZIM. It is the internal matters which affect their cricket. Now PAK & SL are going to tour them which is good sign for them. You need to flush out wrong perceptions about IND from your brain.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    Bowling fast is not sufficient to be competitive in international cricket. Some of the fans must know that the speed isn't be criteria for good bowling attack. If today's PAK generation of Irfan, Junaid, Asad,etc.. can't control Zimbabwe's batting, then it is useless to point out other team's bowling attack. Some fans says PAK don't need Indian type medium bowlers but realistically their bowlers have took their team on Top of the Ranking table since long time. Self observation is the need of the hour now.

  • ZCF on August 27, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    There's been several of you subcontinent fans applauding Zimbabwe for how they played in the first and particularly the second game against Pakistan. On behalf of myself, Zimbabwean players and fans I'd like to thank you for that. This Pak limited overs attack is really as good as the best if not the best in world cricket right now, and in that respect our boys did very well. Unlike the doomsayers, chronic anti-Zim sufferers, you are not blinded to anything positive that grows out of that small Southern African country's cricket.

    The ODIs will be an uphill task, but I think the boys realise that ZC has met them half-way in terms of their financial demands and in order for them to be honoured without any reservations on either side they also have to come to the party. I expect good quality bowling&batting from them to make a fist of it.

    Solid Mawoyo needs match fitness ahead of the Tests so: Matsikenyeri, Mawoyo, Hami, Taylor, Vusi, Williams, Elton, Maruma, Utseya, Panyangara, Chatara

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Mr tuk tuk is only player who win many matches for us, so dont blame misbah. why no one ask about hafeez what he done in last 5 matches,,why misbah target by people?? sohaib is nice find of pakistan,, umer amin last t20 innings against w indies are good but he did not look confidence. Pakistan need umer akmal type players which are confident to build or win matches for pakistan. Pakistan need fast bowlers as well,, asad ali is not a fast bowler,, we need real fast bowlers like shoaib akhtar,, wasim akram and waqar younis,, we dont need indian type medium bowlers,, Pakistan fast bowling is world famous,,, so dont forget tradition,, and at last pray for abdul razzak .. ALLAH give sense to Pakistani selectors give chance to this man.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    Maqsood should be in as Haris sohail.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Can I ask what ICC is doing in helping Zimbabwe cricket in a dark times ? At least they should be sponsored by ICC till they found their own sponsor. ICC can never be like FIFA till Indian monopoly ends ( which i cant see at least in near future)

  • Android on August 27, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    I m really looking gorward to a good performance from Nasir Jamshed.

  • Pushpakumara on August 27, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    Sohaib Maqsood seems to be a fine ODI batsman.Pakistan should give him more opportunities.Hafeeze is useful as a allrounder but not as a top order batsman.Pakistan should settle their batting order positions before mid of 2014.Because WC is not far away.

  • zaf on August 27, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    PAK TEAM should be as 1)Nasir J. 2)Ahmed S. 3)Hafiz M. 4)Misbah/Haris 5)Soaib Maqsood 6)AFRIDI 7)Sarfraz A. 8)Ajmal/Babar 9)Junaid K. 10)Anwar/Umar Amin 11)IRFAN

    Please don't include anymore Asad Safiq, Sohail Tanvir in PAK TEAM.

  • Dummy4 on August 26, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    zimbabwe have batted well in both t 20s they have played some good cricket. the matches were interesting and i think they played well, i think zimbabwes well wishers and fans need to be happy by the way their team has performed. we all know zim is not good against spin but atleast they played pakistani spinners consciously and negotiated them well.pakistani bowling attack is 1 of the best bowling attacks and despite that zim played well. we should a t the moment focus that zim play good cricket consecutively and with time they will get more competitive, and like bangladesh they can surprise any team. despite the positives the selection was not understandable why would you play timycen maruma who always struggles against good bowling whwn you can select someone lik sikander raza butt whos a dashing aggressive t20 batsman .he is gaining confidence and should be used regularly he is a good propect . imagine a middle order with taylor ,butt ,williams ,chigumbura, williams,coventry/mawoyo