LAHORE6 - Hosts Pakistan eye whitewash to strengthen their position for the Champions Trophy qualification while guests Zimbabwe are eager to register a consolation win in the third and final One-Day International (ODI) to be played here at the Gaddafi Stadium today (Sunday).

Pakistan are favourites for the final ODI, having 2-0 series lead while Zimbabwe have potential to make an upset as they are keen to stop the hosts from imposing clean-sweep on them and want to score a consolation win after T20I series defeat.

The hosts remained undefeated in all their matches they have played against Zimbabwe so far which helped them strengthen their qualification for Champions Trophy and will also help the hosts gear up for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour. Their batting department has been in great form with skipper Azhar Ali hammering 79 in the first ODI, followed by a match-winning century in the second. Former captain Shoaib Malik has also regained his lost form and batted brilliantly in both the ODIs, smashing a 76-ball 112 in the first ODI. Not only they have been doing well, but the players like Haris Sohail and M Hafeez also have been contributing significantly and scoring runs freely for the team.

The Gaddafi pitch has been appearing tailor-made for the batsmen and the boundaries appearing to be relatively short, so it will help the batsmen to breeze through the final ODI as well, unless the under-performing Zimbabwean bowling attack pulls out a surprise.

Pakistan bowling has been struggling against low-ranked Zimbabwe. Only Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah have been effective for the hosts, with the duo getting the major breakthroughs while M Sami and Anwar Ali have been somewhat expensive so far in the tournament. Hafeez has been providing able support in the form of a backup bowler. There is a chance Pakistan may rest either Sami or Anwar to provide place to pacer Junaid Khan into the playing XI as the hosts has already won the series.

Pakistan will be hoping that the batsmen can extend their good run while they will also want the bowlers to pull up their socks and come up with a disciplined performance.

Zimbabwe batsmen have been delivering while the bowlers failed to back their performance up to get a victory along their way. Skipper Elton Chigumbura was clinical with a 95-ball 117 in the first game. He was, however, suspended for the rest of the tour due to his team’s slow-over rate, which effectively crippled the visitors in the second encounter. Sikandar Raza was the star of the second game, scoring a century in front of his country folks. He was well-supported by Chamu Chibhabha, who made the most of an opportunity served to him by scoring 99, though he was unfortunately dismissed on that score.

The bowlers have to shape up if they are to end the tour on a high. Though the bowlers were slightly better than the previous game, Tinashe Panyangara and other fellow bowlers must get the crucial breakthroughs in the final match and not let any of Pakistan’s top-order batsmen settle at the crease.

The visitors will be hoping for Vusi Sibanda and Sean Williams, who have struggled in the ODIs, to get going. Like their Pakistan counterparts, the Zimbabwe bowlers have also not had an easy time in the first two games and will be hoping for some respite.

SQUADS:

PAKISTAN: Azhar Ali (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, M Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), M Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Sami, Junaid Khan, Asad Shafiq, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam and Babar Azam.

ZIMBABWE: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Charles Coventry (wk), Tinashe Panyangara, Chris Mpofu, Brian Vitori, Tawanda Mupariwa, Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Roy Kaia, Richmond Mutumbami and Prosper Utseya.