After thrashing Zimbabwe by nine-wickets on Monday, Pakistan can claim an unassailable 3-0 series lead with two games to go if they win Wednesday’s third ODI in Bulawayo.
Here, we look at the talking points ahead of the game.
PAKISTAN’S EXPERIMENTING TO BE PUT ON HOLD
With less than a year to go until the World Cup in England and Wales, teams are looking to fine tune their preparations for the showpiece event. Coach Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz Ahmed have previously said it’s more than just a series win they want to take from Zimbabwe, but also the opportunity to see what other players can bring to the table.
But while Sarfraz reiterated the idea that some changes could be made, he hinted in his post-match press conference that there will be no changes until the series is all but won. “There are chances of a couple of teams shuffling but first we want to win the series,” said the skipper.
That means spinner Yasir Shah, who hasn’t played an ODI since August 2016 against England, may have to wait for his chance with teenager spinner Shadab Khan likely to keep his place despite going wicketless on Monday.
HOW TO STOP FAKHAR ZAMAN?
The hosts must be getting sick and tired of facing the Pakistani opener. Including the tri-series, Zaman has scored two half-centuries and a ton, which came in the second ODI, against Zimbabwe already on this tour. It could have been three fifties but he missed that milestone by three runs in the T20I. Most importantly those efforts have come in winning efforts and with 455 runs scored on Zimbabwe soil already on this tour, the 28-year-old is clearly a man in form.
It’s integral that if Zimbabwe want to pull off an unlikely victory, captain Hamilton Masakadza will need his bowlers to raise their game and put Zaman under constant pressure to get Pakistan’s danger man out early.
ANOTHER TOUGH TASK FOR ZIMBABWE BATSMEN
If Shadab Khan proved to be the wrecker-in-chief with the ball in the opening ODI with figures of 4-32, then it was the pace duo of Hasan Ali (3-32) and Usman Khan (4-32) who did the damage in the second match.
The good news was that Zimbabwe fared much better with the bat on Monday with captain Hamilton Masakadza and Peter Moor hitting half-centuries. It was a vast improvement from the first ODI where Ryan Murray’s 32no was the hosts’ highest score.
Coach Lalchand Rajput will be hoping it’s the start of things to come for the rest of the series and and that other batsmen can step up.
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
Pakistan dominated with bat and ball to ease to a 201-run win over Zimbabwe in the first ODI in Bulawayo on Friday.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq cracked a fine century while leg spinner Shadab Khan finished with a four-for to keep Pakistan on top throughout the first of five ODIs.
Imam, nephew of former captain and current selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, hit 128 as Pakistan posted 308-7 in their 50 overs. Thereafter, 19-year-old leg-spinner Shadab derailed Zimbabwe’s innings by picking up 4-32 and dismissing the hosts in the 35th over for 107.
Imam’s fellow opener Fakhar Zaman continued his fine form by hitting 60, while Asif Ali made a quick-fire 46 from 25 balls on debut to boost Pakistan’s innings.
Pakistan started slowly in overcast conditions with Imam playing and missing on several occasions. He was also lucky to survive an edge off pacer Blessing Muzarabani with the ball falling just short of second slip.
Imam dug deep while Zaman batted freely as Pakistan added 113 for the first wicket inside 25 overs.
Imam-ul-Haq is first Pakistan batsman to score 2 centuries in the first 5 ODIs. Overall he is 8th batsman. #ZimvPak— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) July 13, 2018
Zaman reached his fourth fifty of the tour before giving a return catch to debutant spinner Liam Roche. Thereafter, Imam changed gears to bring up a 109-ball ton in the 37th over.
The hosts took wickets towards the end with Tendai Chatara and Donald Tiripano picking up two apiece as Pakistan lost five wickets in the the final 10 overs.
Any hopes of a Zimbabwe fightback were quickly extinguished as Pakistan’s seamers took the top five wickets within the first 15 overs.
Debutant Ryan Murray finished unbeaten on 32 to help ensure Zimbabwe crossed the 100-run mark.
However, leg-spinner Shadab ran through the lower order to snare four scalps and Zimbabwe were dismissed for their the lowest ODI total at the Queens Sports Club. The teams face off once again in the second match of the series at the same venue on Sunday.
Ahmed Shehzad is expected to be suspended and charged after the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed the opening batsman tested positive for a banned substance.
On Tuesday afternoon, the PCB tweeted: “Independent Review Board report on doping case has been received by PCB. Cricketer Ahmad Shahzad has tested positive for a banned substance. PCB will issue charge sheet today.”
Last month the PCB confirmed that a Pakistan national team player had failed a doping test during a domestic match but did not reveal their identity. The test reports were sent to India for a re-check which caused the delay.
Shehzad, 26, was part of the T20 squad which toured Ireland in June and has played 13 Tests, 81 ODIs and 57 T20Is.