The match will see the No1 and No3 ranked T20I teams go head-to-head in what is descending into a four-way battle for the top billing.
SARFRAZ’S PAKISTAN ON A ROLL
The 74-run win on Sunday was the 12th win in their last 13 matches for Pakistan who have been the kings of the format for the past year or so. Sarfraz Ahmed’s men have now won eight T20 matches on the bounce, a first in Pakistan’s history.
The men in green have now won 20 of the 23 matches they have played under Sarfraz’s captaincy and bear the look of a well-oiled machine capable of overturning any opposition in front of them.
Their bowling attack has been especially, has been on song and will be tough proposition for Australia to navigate on Monday.
AUSTRALIA SEARCH FOR FIRST WIN IN LANGER’S TENURE
Justin Langer’s tenure as the coach of Australia could not have got off to a more horrific start after his men were resoundingly beaten in each of the five ODIs and sole T20 they played against England.
Attempting to usher in a new era for Australian cricket after the fallout of the ball-tampering saga has not been easy so far for Langer and his men and they will hope that a change of surroundings in Zimbabwe can bring about a drastic change in their fortunes.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Asif Ali, Shoaib Malik, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Nawaz.
Australia: D’Arcy Short, Aaron Finch (c), Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Agar, Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson, Mitchell Swepson, Billy Stanlake.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also confirmed that left-arm spinner Axar Patel has been brought in as Washington’s replacement for the three-match ODI series which will be played after three T20s. The T20 series begins on Tuesday in Manchester.
The Pakistan veteran became only the third batsman in history to register 2, 000 runs in the T20I format and the first from his country. The New Zealand duo of Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill are the only previous batsmen to have attained the feat.
Malik reached the landmark during his unbeaten cameo of 37 runs which came off just 24 deliveries in Pakistan’s victory. The batsman has been in great form in the format for some time now and he was on song once again at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
The right-hander struck one six and two boundaries during his 24-ball stay at the crease as he and Asif Ali provided some much needed lusty blows towards the death overs for Pakistan.
Shoaib Malik last 3 T20I innings:— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) July 1, 2018
37* off 24 balls
49* off 22 balls
53 off 27 balls
Average of 139
Strike-rate of 190#Cricket
The duo collected 61 runs from the last five overs as Pakistan posted a daunting total of 182-4 after being asked to bat first by Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakazda.
Malik’s 2,026 runs in T20I cricket have come from 99 matches at an average of 31.65 and a strike-rate of over 122. In his last 25 innings for Pakistan in the format, the 36-year-old has scored 771 runs at an average of over 70 and a strike-rate greater than 151.
His explosive hitting in the death overs has been a hallmark of Pakistan’s climb to the No1 ranking in the T20 format. His excellent form has coincided with Pakistan’s run of 11 victories in their last 12 matches coming into the tri-series.
Though he is ranked 30th in the latest ICC rankings for T20I batsman, it won’t be a surprise to see Malik make a huge jump when the rankings are next updated after his fine showing in the two preceding T20Is against Scotland.