RAWALPINDI   -   With the series in the bag already, Pakistan will hope to make it three in three against Zimbabwe in the final ODI in Rawalpindi today (Tuesday).

A win would also see Pakistan go top of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League points table.Zimbabwe have had some promising performances in the first two matches, but have failed to string together a perfect team effort. Pakistan, on the other hand, have had contributions coming in from all quarters. 

The area the visitors would most like to fix would be the top order, which hasn’t fired in either of the two matches. The onus will be on captain and opener Chamu Chibhabha to help deliver Zimbabwe with a strong start in the final match. That, however, will be no easy task against Pakistan’s formidable attack. Where fast bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz did most of the damage in the first ODI, spinner Iftikhar Ahmed led the charge in the second match.

With the quicks having provided a great start, Iftikhar chipped away into the middle order with only Sean Williams (75 off 70) going past fifty. The off-spinner struck key blows, including the wickets of Brendan Taylor and Williams on his way to a career-best haul of 5/40. After having missed out in the first match, newly-appointed captain Babar Azam excelled in the second game striking a fluent 74-ball 77* to steer Pakistan to a six-wicket win in a modest chase of 207.

A raft of changes could be in the offing in Pakistan team. There could be debuts for left-handed middle-order batsman Khushdil Shah and leg spinner Usman Qadir, and left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar could get a look-in too. Vice-captain Shadab Khan, who hasn’t featured so far due to injury, may return if he’s fit. 

Zimbabwe played the same team in the first two matches. But they might want to make a change or two for the final one. Ryan Burl could be brought in the team to strengthen their middle order while also offering a new dimension to the bowling with his leg spin. Elton Chigumbura is another option. One of them, or another seamer altogether, might come in for seamer Carl Mumba who had a poor tour so far. 

Pakistan bowler Iftikhar Ahmed said: “I have worked on my skills, I am playing as a batting all-rounder and I’ve honed my skills since the England tour. I bowl a lot of variations, depending on the wicket and that’s what gives me success. My batting preparation has been good too, and the youngsters have done quite well as well.”


PAKISTAN: Imam ul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Babar Azam (capt), Abdullah Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Faheem Ashraf, Zafar Gohar, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain and Musa Khan.

ZIMBABWE: Brian Chari, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor (wk), Sean Williams, Wesley Madhevere, Sikandar Raza, Elton Chigumbura, Ryan Burl, Carl Mumba, Richard Ngarava, Blessing Muzarabani.