Zimbabwe and Pakistan lock horns in the second ODI at the Queen’s Sports Club in Bulawyo on Monday. The visitors lead the five-match series by 1-0 after a thumping 201-run win in the first ODI.
The hosts suffered another setback ahead of the clash with batsman Malcolm Wallace pulling out of the squad after citing labour-practice laws. Skipper Hamilton Masakadza won the toss on a chilly morning at Bulawyo and elected to bat first.
Zimbabwe lost opener Brian Chari early with Usman Khan picking up the wicket in the fourth over of the innings. The Pakistan pacer struck again in the eighth over when he had Chamu Chibhabha caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed. Masakadza and Tarisai Musakanda then formed a 62-run partnership before the latter was dismissed by Hasan Ali.
The Zimbabwe skipper was eventually dismissed by Shoaib Malik for 59. Ali then removed Ryan Murray to reduce Zimbabwe to 140-5. The hosts were ultimately bowled out for 194 runs with Usman Khan and Hasan Ali sharing seven wickets between them.
In reply, Pakistan openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq made a solid start and added 119 runs between themselves for the first wicket. Fakhar brought up a quick-fire half-century before his partner was run-out for 44 after a huge mix-up. Fakhar went on to register his second ODI ton as Pakistan headed towards a thumping win. The visitors ultimately chased down the total in 36 overs at the loss of only one wicket.
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The two teams are currently locked at 1-1 in the three-match series with the deciding ODI set to take place at Headingley on Tuesday.
“They (India) are a really strong side, as we saw in periods (at Lord’s), and particularly at Trent Bridge, so to beat them in the series would be quite significant – very significant,” Morgan told the media on the eve of the deciding ODI.
The 31-year-old feels the ‘pressure’ of playing in a decider against a quality opposition like India will hold his side in great stead for the future.
“I am not a huge fan of bilateral series – having a game like this is crucial for us. I prefer a tri-series and the context. Every game brings something different with significance on it,” the England skipper stated.
All eyes will be on how the English batsmen negotiate Kuldeep Yadav in the final ODI after the left-arm wrist-spinner picked up a career-best 6-25 in the opener at Trent Bridge. England gave a much better account of themselves against Kuldeep at Lord’s but he still walked away with three wickets.
“We started better against him (Kuldeep),” Morgan said. “And the more we face him, the easier he got to pick. But you still have to play him well. I thought Joe (Root) was quite significant in that – his rotation of strike, his calm head.
“We emphasised the need to be clear on your plan and then sticking to it, and that’s what we did. Our plans are always about positive thinking, and we didn’t veer away from that.”
The package, which will last until the end of England’s first-class cricket season, was materialized after an injury to Australia opener Matt Renshaw.
In what will be his maiden stint in county cricket, the Pakistan man has been signed as an overseas replacement for Renshaw after the Australian broke his finger.
The 33-year-old had been eyeing a deal in county cricket ever since Pakistan toured England for a two-match Test series in the summer. The right-hander endured a frustrating time in England after scoring a half-century in the first innings of the opening Test at Lord’s. He was dismissed for scores of 4, 2 and 11 in the remaining three innings during the series.
Azhar Ali will leave for UK today to play 7 first-class matches for Somerset in the County Championship. Much needed cricket for him ahead of an important home season in which Pakistan will play 5 Tests against Australia and New Zealand.— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) July 16, 2018
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur had then talked up the possibility of Azhar and Asad Shafiq securing deals with county outfits for the rest of the summer. Seamer Mohammad Abbas is currently undergoing a stint with Leicestershire.
Azhar was not picked in Pakistan’s limited-overs squad which is currently undergoing a tour of Zimbabwe.
Pakistan will not be playing any Test cricket for a few months with their next assignment being a home series in the UAE against Australia in October.
Azhar has so far played 65 Tests for Pakistan where he has scored 5, 202 runs at an average greater than 44, including 14 centuries and 28 fifties.