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Pakistan vs Zimbabwe in 2019-20

A review of Pakistan vs Zimbabwe, 2019-20

Shahid Hashmi
Pakistan legspinner Usman Qadir in his delivery stride  •  AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan legspinner Usman Qadir in his delivery stride  •  AFP via Getty Images

One-day internationals (3): Pakistan 2 (20pts), Zimbabwe 1 (10pts) Twenty20 internationals (3): Pakistan 3, Zimbabwe 0
The revival of international cricket in Pakistan came almost full circle with another visit from Zimbabwe, who in 2015 had been the first to tour since the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009. This visit was very different, conducted in a biosecure bubble in Rawalpindi, which staged six white-ball matches in just 12 days. The absence of spectators made the stringent security arrangements a little easier.
Zimbabwe were still emerging from isolation of another kind, after their cricket was disrupted by a brief ICC ban for government interference in 2019. The squad, led by Chamu Chibhabha, was bolstered by the return of the tall 24-year-old opening bowler Blessing Muzarabani, who had spent the previous two English seasons with Northamptonshire as a Kolpak player. There were signs of promise from Wesley Madhevere, a 20-year-old batsman who bowled serviceable off-spin, while there was also a maiden call-up for Faraz Akram, a Saudi Arabian-born seamer. And the tour turned out to be a curtain-call for former captain Elton Chigumbura, who announced his retirement, aged 34, during the T20 series. Zimbabwe's Indian coach, Lalchand Rajput, was advised not to travel to Pakistan; bowling coach Douglas Hondo stepped in.
Pakistan won the first one-day international, despite Brendan Taylor's century, and took the series with a straightforward win in the second. But Zimbabwe salvaged some pride by winning the third after a super over, in which Muzarabani claimed two wickets to take his haul for the day to seven.
Pakistan's extra experience gave them the edge in the T20s, which they swept 3-0. That series featured a noteworthy debut, thanks to an ankle injury which sidelined Shadab Khan: Usman Qadir, a 27-year-old leg-spinner who had flirted with qualifying for Australia, followed his famous father, Abdul Qadir - who died in September 2019, aged 63 - into the Pakistan side. Exhibiting a similar bouncy action, and turning his leg-breaks and googlies a long way at times, he claimed eight for 60 in the three matches. "It was quite emotional to remember my father," said Usman. "I was remembering him with every wicket I got, because they are all for him." The twin series were a triumph for Babar Azam, who followed 77 not out and 125 in the one-dayers with 82 and 51 in the T20s. Already captain in the white-ball formats, he was soon put in charge of the Test team as well.