The quality possessed by Sarfraz Ahmed’s men has proved to be a bridge too far for the depleted hosts with the visitors racking up records one after the other like they have been going out of fashion.
FAKHAR ZAMAN ON THE VERGE OF ANOTHER RECORD
Just two days after he became Pakistan’s first double centurion in ODI cricket and sixth overall, Fakhar Zaman will have the chance to enter the record books once again.
The left-handed opener is 20 runs shy of the 1,000-run mark in the format. Should he achieve the same on Sunday, Fakhar will become the fastest batsman to get to the milestone. Currently, Sir Viv Richards holds that record after completing the feat in 21 innings. On the other hand, the Pakistan man’s 980 runs have come in just 17 innings at an average greater than 75.
HOSTS LOOK FOR SILVER LINING
There has been nothing to shout about for Zimbabwe cricket for some time now. With the administration in turmoil as wage-dispute saga ranges on with the players, Zimbabwe cricket has hit its nadir.
Skipper Hamilton Masakadza has been handed a thankless task following the pullout of five senior players even before the series started. Then, they lost the in-form Solomon Mire and all-rounder Kyle Jarvis to injuries with Malcolm Wallace also pulling out of the squad citing labour-practice laws.
Their four defeats in the series have been as one-sided as they come and it will take something extraordinary for the hosts to make a killing in the final ODI. It is a win they desperately need at the moment given the way Zimbabwean cricket has been declining.
PAKISTAN EXPECTED TO RING IN THE CHANGES
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur talked about using the five-match series as a drawing board for the 2019 World Cup preparations and that is exactly what Sarfaz’s men have done so far.
The men in green have rotated their personnel throughout the series and the same will be expected on Sunday. Pace spearhead Mohammad Amir has played only two of the four matches in the series so far and he should get another run out in the final ODI.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah played the last two matches on his return from injury and Sunday could be the turn of Mohammad Nawaz to feature in the playing XI.
In the batting department, Haris Sohail could get a game after missing out on all four matches so far.
The banned Australia star struck a fluent 32-ball 36 in his side’s win over Cameron Bancroft’s Northern Tide at Darwin.
The left-handed opener was opener was handed a 12-month ban by Cricket Australia for his role in the ball-tampering episode which occurred during the side’s tour of South Africa earlier this year.
Warner recently made a return to competitive cricket in the inaugural Global T20 Canada league where he took on the captaincy duties for Winnipeg Hawks midway through the tournament. His Saturday appearance for the City Cyclones was his first in a domestic tournament in Australia ever since he was handed the ban.
With the World Cup in England now less than 12 months away, Warner is hoping to step up his preparations in the near future.
“I’m pretty good when I’m fresh,” Warner was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au after his NT Strike League debut.
“If you look at the last 12 months, I played basically every game (for Australia) and didn’t get a rest. I had a five-day turnaround before the first Test in South Africa and I led the team in (the T20 tri-series in Australia and) New Zealand when some of the other guys had a rest.
“So I know that the breaks do me (good), and you don’t lose form overnight. You can be a bit scratchy, but time in the nets and … I wake up every day and face Mitchell Starc, (Pat) Cummins and (Josh) Hazlewood, the best bowlers, I feel, in the world.”
The 31-year-old believes facing the Australia pace trio in the nets along with a stint in next year’s IPL will hold him in great stead for the World Cup.
“If I can face them (Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood) consistently at training when the ban’s up, that gets you back in. You’ve got plenty of warm-up games (before the World Cup), and I’ll be playing the IPL as well leading into that,” Warner explained.
“So there’s plenty of cricket and plenty of world-class players to play against, as well to get my preparation on song,” he added.
Australia will come in as the defending champions for the 2019 World Cup edition after lifting the crown at home in 2015.
“Even in the ICC, I don’t see any other country other than England and Australia showing interest to play Tests. As a board, they are not interested in Tests. The broadcasters are also not interested. They say they don’t have any interest where there is no audience,” Hassan was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“We are seeing in our country that some of our senior players don’t want to play Test cricket. Shakib doesn’t want to play Tests. Mustafiz also doesn’t want to play, but he hasn’t mentioned it. He wants it to a point. Maybe since he is injury-prone, he feels he will get injured playing Tests?
“Maybe they feel Test is quite tough, say for someone like Rubel (Hossain). Bringing in younger players is our only option.”
Shakib had previously been granted exemption from participating in the Test series against South Africa last year upon his personal request.
Mustafizur, meanwhile, missed the Test series in the West Indies due to an injury he sustained while playing for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. The BCB chief has warned that the pacer will not be granted a NOC (No Objection Certificate) to play in overseas T20 leagues for the next two years.
“The saddest part is that he (Mustafizur) gets hurt playing franchise leagues, and then can’t serve the country. It is not acceptable. I have already told him that he can’t play outside for the next two years,” Hassan stated.