Sarfraz Ahmed‘s men lead the series 4-0 after four crushing wins and will be looking to inflict a whitewash over the much depleted hosts. Hamilton Masakadza’s men on the other hand, will be aiming to avert that humiliation as they look to end the series on a high. The Pakistan skipper won the toss at the Queen’s Sports Club and has elected to bat first. Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Nazaw have returned to the visitors’ line-up with Usman Khan and Yasir Shah missing out.
Pakistan openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq have made a solid and watchful start with the former going past the 1, 000-run mark in ODI cricket. The 18 innings taken by Fakhar to reach the milestone is the fastest in history and has bettered the 21-innings record set by Sir Viv Richards and Babar Azam among others. The opening pair added 168 runs between themselves in 25 overs before Fakhar was dismissed for 85. Imam meanwhile, went on to register his third century of the series and second in succession as Pakistan headed towards another big total. He was eventually dismissed after a 110-run stay at the crease.
Babar Azam took control of Pakistan’s innings following the openers’ dismissals. The right-hander brought up his eighth ODI ton off just 72 deliveries as he led the visitors to a total of 364-4 in their 50 overs. In reply, Zimbabwe openers have added 26 runs in the first seven overs. Hamilton Mazakadza and Tinashe Kamunhukamwe added 66 runs for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed by Mohammad Nawaz. The skipper followed him to the pavilion after being bowled by Hasan Ali. The pacer later broke a stubborn 78-run stand for the third wicket between Ryan Murray and Prince Masvaure by dismissing the latter. Murray and Peter Moor then got together for an unbeaten 67-run stand as Zimbabwe ended their innings at 233-4 in 50 overs.
Rishabh Pant is quickly making a name for himself after his exhilarating performances for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL this year which have been followed by an equally impressive showing in India A’s tour of England.
Despite Pant being known for his aggressive and attacking approach to batting, India A coach Rahul Dravid believes that the youngster has the temperament to succeed in every format.
“Rishabh has shown that he could bat differently. He has the temperament and skills to bat differently,” Dravid told bcci.tv.
“He is always going to be an attacking player but reading of the situation when one is playing red ball cricket is required. We are glad that he has been picked in the national team and I hope he takes this maturity and builds from thereon.”
Dravid, who has also coached Pant in his India U19 days, expressed his delight at how the youngster had handled various situations during the India A tour.
“On this trip, we challenged him a lot to bat according to the situation. He got a critical 64 not out in the One-Day tri-series final (England Lions), when he was the last recognised batsman,” he said.
“And also against West Indies A, he put on a 100-run partnership with Jayant Yadav,” the batting legend added.
The former India batsman believes having shadow tours like India A’s recent sojourns in England is of great benefit to the senior team.
“It’s great to have shadow tours. It may not always be possible but whenever it’s possible it’s highly beneficial. A lot of players have joined the national side from the team. It also gave Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane come down and spend time with us and play a practice game that was competitive and tough,” said Dravid.
Dravid’s men completed their assignment in England with a loss to England Lions in their second unofficial Test at Worcester. Pant however, did well to register half-centuries in each innings.
The hosts declared their second innings to set a huge victory target of 490 and they are on the verge of a crushing success after spinners Akila Dananjaya and Rangana Herath each took two wickets to reduce South Africa to 139 for five.
Theunis De Bruyn was the only South Africa batsman to offer any resistance with an unbeaten 45 off 97 balls. He remains at the crease with Temba Bavuma (14).
Dimuth Karunaratne (85), Danushka Gunathilaka (61) and Angelo Mathews (71) all posted half-centuries as Sri Lanka declared on 275 for five after starting the third morning on 151 for three.
For South Africa, who must win the second Test to avoid defeat in the two-match series, left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj took three for 154 to finish with a 12-wicket match haul.
Sri Lanka won the opening Test in Galle by 278 runs inside three days and another comfortable victory looks on the cards.