Pakistan look to fine-tune World Cup preparations against depleted Zimbabwe in second ODI

Waseem Ahmed 15/07/2018
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Pakistan lead the five-match series 1-0 currently.

Zimbabwe and Pakistan will lock horns once again in the second of the five ODIs at Bulawyo on Monday. The visitors secured a crushing win by 201 runs in the first ODI to take a 1-0 lead in the series and will be looking for more of the same against the depleted hosts in the second game.

As the two sides get ready to meet at the Queen’s Sports Club, we look at some key talking points.

BYOUYANT PAKISTAN LOOK TO FINE-TUNE WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS

The win in the first ODI was the first in the format in 2018 for Sarfraz Ahmed’s men who were whitewashed 5-0 in New Zealand earlier this year. With their ODI account now open, the remainder of the four matches in the series provides the men in green with ample opportunity to fine-tune their preparations for the 2019 World Cup. Coach Mickey Arthur had previously spoken about looking at the bigger picture and that is exactly what Pakistan will aim to do.

This could mean some new combinations in bowling and batting being tried out by the visitors on Monday. One possibility is Yasir Shah coming into the playing XI as he completes his return from a long-term injury layoff. After Shadab Khan’s four-wicket haul in the first ODI, Sarfraz might be tempted to line up with two spinners as he seeks to get Yasir back into match rhythm. The senior leg-spinner has not played an ODI for two years now but with the ever-growing effectiveness of wrist-spinners in white-ball cricket, Pakistan will want to test Yasir as an option for the 2019 World Cup.

Yasir Shah has not played an ODI for two years now.

Yasir Shah has not played an ODI for two years now.

DEPLETED HOSTS DEALT ANOTHER BLOW

Zimbabwe came into the series with a depleted unit with five of their senior players in Sikandar Raza, Brendon Taylor, Graeme Cramer and Sean Williams unavailable due to the ongoing pay dispute between the players and the cricketing board.

The Hamilton Masakadza-led squad was further depleted when the in-form Solomon Mire and all-rounder Kyle Jarvis were ruled out of the ODIs due to injuries. Mire’s absence in particular was a big blow after he played some stellar innings in the preceding T20 tri-series.

Now, the hosts have suffered another setback with batsman Malcolm Waller withdrawing from the squad after citing labour-practice laws. With the turmoil in Zimbabwe cricket showing no signs of ending, the hosts will have it all to do against a Pakistan outfit whose showings in white-ball cricket has been pretty impressive of late.

Mazakadza has an unenviable task on hand with a depleted squad.

Mazakadza has an unenviable task on hand with a depleted squad.

LIKELY XIs

Zimbabwe: Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza (c), Tarisai Musakanda, Peter Moor, Ryan Murray (wk), Donald Tiripano, Liam Roche, Wellington Masakadza, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani.

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.

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Sri Lanka Premier League T20 postponed indefinitely

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Elections for SLC had been suspended by Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal.

Sri Lanka’s T20 league has been postponed indefinitely with the country’s cricket governing body remaining in turmoil.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) confirmed the indefinite postponements of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) which was slated to get underway next month while new dates for the competition will be announced only after a new governing body has been elected.

The SLC is being managed by an interim management body appointed by Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha ever since Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal suspended elections for the board in May this year.

“Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to inform that the LPL (T20) has been postponed indefinitely, until an elected body is constituted at the SLC,” a statement from the interim board read.

Sumathipala's candidacy for re-elections was challenged by Ranatunga.

Sumathipala’s candidacy for re-elections was challenged by Ranatunga.

The drama at the board started after former SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga argued that outgoing president Thilanga Sumathipala was unsuitable for re-election due to his alleged links to gambling.

Sumathipala was pitted against Nishantha’s elder brother and former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga before his validity was challenged. The Ranatunga brothers contend that ICC regulations forbid Sumathipala form holding office due to his alleged links to gambling, a claim the former SLC president has denied while acknowledging his family’s ties to the business.

The Lanka Premier League had kicked off in 2012 before coming to a stall due to organisational issues and lack of sponsors. It was supposed to be relaunched this year as a six-team affair.

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Joe Root lauds 'ruthless' England after Lord's win over India

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England produced a commanding display to tie the series at 1-1.

Joe Root has called on England to produce a “ruthless” one-day international series win over India at Headingley on Tuesday.

Root’s 113 steered England to an 86-run victory at Lord’s on Saturday as Trevor Bayliss’ men squared the three-match series.

India’s limp response of 236 all out in their full 50-over allocation handed England a comfortable win that had appeared at best in the balance at the interval.

David Willey fired a vital unbeaten 50, with captain Eoin Morgan adding 53 as England retained their status as the world’s top-ranked ODI side.

“The pitch was always going to deteriorate quite quickly,” said Root.

“That ruthless side of the ODI team really came out today. And we’re seeing it more and more.

“Hopefully we can back that up and finish the series off now.

“David came in and took a lot of pressure off me, to help us turn in what was at least a par score, so it was a fabulous effort from him.”

Root had faced just three deliveries from Kuldeep Yadav before today, with England struggling previously to decipher the 23-year-old’s left-arm wrist spin.

Root struck his 12th ODI ton and first at Lord's in England's win.

Root struck his 12th ODI ton and first at Lord’s in England’s win.

Kuldeep stunned England with his match-winning six for 25 at Trent Bridge on Thursday, but come the weekend in London the hosts felt they had a better handle on his approach, even though he still claimed three wickets.

“Ultimately you’ve just got to trust your game and trust your technique; I felt I was picking him OK,” said Root.

“It was more about spending time out there and trusting the way I go about things.

“I feel I’ve got a solid approach against spin bowling.

“Having a few overs under my belt today gave me quite a lot of confidence.

“It’s just one of those things, when you don’t spend the time you might like out there on occasions and it happens a few times you’ve got to make sure you stay strong and trust what’s served you so well for such a long time.

“It was a chance to pick as many cues up as possible throughout this innings, to make sure I don’t get caught cold in Leeds.

“On a turning surface it’s important to make sure you feel you’re playing it in the right manner and working things out.”

Relieved to have posted his first ODI century since March, Root added: “I’m just desperate to contribute to us winning games of cricket.

“Thankfully I managed to follow through here. I thought we were quite smart in getting to what we thought was a good total; we didn’t go too hard too early.”

India were left to rue a curiously subdued innings from veteran MS Dhoni, who laboured to 37 off 59 balls and was booed by sections of the Lord’s crowd.

The tourists skipper Virat Kohli defended Dhoni however, insisting India still believe in their high-profile wicketkeeper batsman.

“This comes up again and again when he is not able to play in the normal way he does,” Kohli told Sky Sports.

“It’s very unfortunate people just jump to conclusions very quickly.

“When he does well people call him the best finisher ever and when they don’t go well they all pounce on him. We all have bad days in cricket and today was a bad one for everyone, not just him.

“Other people jump to conclusions but we don’t, we totally believe in him.”

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