Brisbane- Thrashed out of sight by India and then beaten comfortably by a West Indies team who were in turn obliterated by South Africa, Pakistan's stock is not looking terribly strong. There have been squabbles with pundits in Pakistan, stray stories about Younis Khan retiring from ODIs (he isn't just yet) and plenty of questions about how injuries and suspensions have left Misbah-ul-Haq's men with an impossible task to emulate the victorious World Cup team of 1992.

However, the sight of Zimbabwe, also defeated by the West Indies, affords Misbah's men a chance to regain some confidence at the Gabba, a ground that should suit Pakistan's pacemen and the spin of Yasir Shah should he be chosen. Zimbabwe's captain Elton Chigumbura spoke on the eve of the match of how his team is conscious that this may be the last World Cup at which they have an automatic place, and that they have resolved to give a better account of themselves than in 2011, 2007 or 2003.

To do so and remain in contention for the quarter-finals, they would have to defeat Pakistan here, and despite the subcontinental side's fragility, it is difficult seeing that happen in Brisbane. The weakness evident in Zimbabwe's bowling should allow Pakistan's batsmen a little more breathing room, while the bowlers can attack more boldly. Even so, Pakistan have never failed to surprise or confound, and a defeat to Zimbabwe would certainly rank highly among the more startling results returned by the team of the "cornered Tigers".

There has been an air of irritation about Misbah-ul-Haq the past few days, as criticism of his side and their halting early progress at the World Cup has reached a feverish pitch back home. He has not had the best tournament thus far as a tactician and faced familiar censure for his collected, deliberate batting style. Misbah has so often been the island of calm in the Pakistani storm, but can he remain so and allow his men to try to mount a cohesive challenge for the knockouts?

Handy starts so far at this tournament have indicated that Brendan Taylor is in some decent form with the bat. However, he has been unable to go on from the 40s, and the limitations of Zimbabwe's bowling attack mean that more substantial scores are needed from one of the team's most influential performers over the years. A spinal century against a Pakistan team struggling for confidence would allow Zimbabwe to put pressure on a team they have seldom beaten.