LAHORE-Pakistan cricket team will take on visitors Zimbabwe at Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi today (Saturday) at 3:30 pm, and they are confident of continuing their good show of ODIs in the Twenty20 International series as well. 

For the hosts, the upcoming series is an opportunity to stamp their authority once again, and anything lesser than a whitewash would be considered a failure. The selectors will be keen to give opportunities to the young guns such as Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali, and Khushdil Shah, who can do wonders for the men in green. Despite having the edge on Zimbabwe, Pakistan lack consistency, and they remain consistent throughout the series, they can easily whitewash the visitors. 

Pakistan are slowly back on the rise after a blip in the T20I format. They beat Bangladesh at home 2-0 early in the year before levelling the three-match series against England. These came after they lost every T20I series they played in 2019, losing their No 1 position in the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings. They continue to be without the injured Shadab Khan. Imad Wasim and Ifthikar Ahmed will likely continue in the spin department. 

Captain Babar Azam was at his classy best in the ODI series and his morale is sky after cracking a classy century against the visitors. He will be on the opening duties alongside Fakhar Zaman, who did not feature in any of the three games. Their middle-order has a decent blend of experience and youth with youngsters Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, alongside Mohammad Hafeez. Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf made the ball talk and they would want to continue in the same vein alongside the veteran pacer Wahab Riaz. 

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Pakistan captain Babar Azam said that he is confident about winning the Twenty20 series against Zimbabwe, saying the players are positive and quality cricket will be seen in the games. “We will try to play positive cricket in the series. We have got a good pool of players and will try to carry the good type of cricket in T20s that we played in the recently-concluded ODI series against Zimbabwe. If you back your players, you get good performances,” he said. 

On the other hand, Zimbabwe have never beaten Pakistan in a T20I, but after a confidence-boosting Super Over win in the final ODI, the visitors will hope to make more impact in the shortest format of the game. They need to leave an impression in the shorter format and a lot will rely on two batsmen, Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, who made hundreds each in ODIs, and pacer Blessing Muzarabani and spinner Tendai Chisoro. 

The top-order concerns for Zimbabwe sustain as neither Brian Chari nor Chamu Chibhabha managed to make their presence felt in the 50-over format. Though Craig Ervine played a good hand in the first ODI, he was unable to contribute in the matches that followed. Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, and Wesley Madhevere will form the middle-order, and the team would expect to get some contribution from Sikandar Raza. Spinner Tendai Chisoro and pacer Blessing Muzarabani have been able to trouble the opponents well thus far, and Zimbabwe would rely on them heavily this time around as well.

Visiting side skipper Chamu Chibhabha said: “Moving forward as team, we want to be winning more matches so it doesn’t matter what format it is. It’s important whenever we go out there, we play the brand of cricket which win us more matches, that’s the mentality. “We haven’t talked about the combinations yet. When we played our last game that we won, I thought we were a better team than Pakistan and it is up to us to execute that on the field and get the results we want,” he added. 

SQUADS (PROBABLES)

PAKISTAN: Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (capt), Haider Ali, M Hafeez, Abdullah Shafique, M Rizwan (wk), Rohail Nazir (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, Wahab Riaz, M Musa, M Hasnain, Shaheen Afridi. 

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