2nd T20I, Harare, September 29, 2015, Pakistan tour of Zimbabwe
(20 ov, T:137) 121/7

Pakistan won by 15 runs

Player Of The Match
38* (28)
Player Of The Series
32 runs • 5 wkts

Strong bowling gives Pakistan teeth

Given the conditions in Harare, Pakistan's bowlers will likely have a big impact on the result of Tuesday's game as well

Match facts

Tuesday, September 29
Start time 1.00 pm local (1100GMT)

Big picture

Bowling, and particularly fast bowling, has long been essential to the character of Pakistan's cricket. Their bowlers certainly adjusted to conditions more quickly than their batsmen in the first T20I against Zimbabwe on Sunday, but it was one of their spinners who turned the match decisively in their favour. Imad Wasim removed four of Zimbabwe's top five to help Pakistan snatch a 1-0 lead in the series.
He was admirably backed up by the rest of the bowling unit and, given the conditions, bowlers will likely have a big impact on the result of Tuesday's game as well. The enviable Twenty20 pedigree in Pakistan's bowling attack bodes well for the visitors, but there will be concerns to address over the performance of the top order. It's been almost two months since Pakistan last played international cricket, but most of their squad took part in their domestic T20 competition earlier this month so rustiness shouldn't be a factor.
Zimbabwe's bowlers also had a good day out, and there is no clear chink in their bowling armoury heading into the second game. What is needed by both sides is for one of the top order to bat most of the way through the innings, as shot-making became easier for the batsmen the longer they were at the crease on Sunday.
While Zimbabwe have found a way to put themselves in winning positions with some consistency this year, they have yet to crack the methods needed to convert potential into tangible results. The problem is a frustrating one, but one feels that coach Dav Whatmore is getting closer and closer to drawing the best out of his charges. Tuesday's match provides another opportunity to get things right.

Form guide

Zimbabwe LLWLL
Pakistan WWWWW

In the spotlight

Imad Wasim is a T20 captain's dream. Electric in the field, adventurous with the bat and incisive with the ball, he's arrived to Zimbabwean conditions that suit him to a tee. If he continues to perform at this standard, he could quickly become a vital cog in Pakistan's T20 squad as they build towards the World T20 next year. His performance in the first match will also have left Zimbabwe with some tactical decisions to make. Playing him as an orthodox left-arm spinner, as they tried to do on Sunday, didn't seem to work.
Prosper Utseya has now played six international matches, four T20Is and two ODIs, without taking a wicket. This isn't Utseya's longest dry spell, but the worry for Zimbabwe is that his control and accuracy also haven't been quite at the standard that had earned him a reputation as a dot-ball bowler. It's worth remembering that Utseya took a hat-trick against South Africa in conditions very similar to these last year. He may not be able to bowl the offspin that brought that result anymore, but Zimbabwe desperately need him to make more of conditions that should suit his style.

Team news

There's been no word of any injuries to Zimbabwe's squad, and given how close they came on Sunday they will probably want to stick with the combination that almost worked. One potential change may be to bring in offspinner John Nyumbu, who would provide a more attacking option than Utseya with similar potential for economy.
Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Sikandar Raza, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Prosper Utseya/John Nyumbu, 11 Tinashe Panyangara.
Pakistan's lower-middle order and bowling attack have given them little to worry about and, though he won't be able to bowl, it may be prudent to bolster the top order with Mohammad Hafeez' experience.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Mukhtar Ahmed, 3 Ahmed Shehzad, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shahid Afridi (capt), 7 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Imran Khan.

Pitch and conditions

Sunday's pitch played even slower than had been expected. The square was watered and the pitch rolled on Monday's rest day, but the adjacent track being used for the second game is likely to play in a similar way. Brevity is the soul of T20 cricket, but batsmen looking to succeed on this track may need to target a long innings. There's been a build-up of cloud cover and humidity in recent days, but rain at this time of year is virtually unknown and it should be another hot, sunny day.

Stats and trivia

  • The only bowler to have recorded better T20I figures than Imad Wasim's at Harare Sports Club is Hafeez, who took 4 for 10 here in 2011.
  • The average first innings score in T20Is in Harare is 158.
  • No one has scored more T20I runs at this ground than Chamu Chibhabha, who has 255 from ten innings. Chibhabha averages 40.33 with the bat and 26.33 with the ball in international cricket this year.
  • Quotes

    "The batsmen need to take up their responsibility."
    Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi
    "We have come close on many occasions but are just losing."
    Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura

    Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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