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Before the important final fixture of the tri-series being played at Zimbabwe, Australia have yet another game to play against the home team. Although the game would be a dead-rubber and won't have any impact on the final standings whatsoever, it would be of huge importance for the Zimbabwe Cricket. After this match, which is to be played on 6th July 2018, Zimbabwe do not have any Cricket assignment for more than a year before they host Afghanistan in August 2019. They'd like to end their cricketing season on a high by posting a victory in this dead-rubber. Australia, on the other hand, would like to get their act together after a substandard performance against Pakistan before the final game of Saturday. Despite no major significance of this game as far as the series is concerned, expect both the teams to come into the game with full force.
Not many would have given the men in green a chance to beat Australia like they did considering the way Australia trounced Pakistan in the earlier encounter in the series. Australia bettered their performance with a dominant performance against the hosts. However, things didn't go according to the plan in the last league game which was also being termed as mock-final prior to the Friday's final.
Unlike the other day, Billy Stanlake's pace and bounce seemed to have no impact on Pakistan's batting. In fact, Fakhar Zaman smashed him for three consecutive boundaries against him in one of the powerplay overs. After inserting Pakistan in to bat, Australia tried to get rid of their batsmen by treating them with a barrage of bouncers. However, because of the slowness of the pitch and their inaccuracy, they were taken for runs. Andrew Tye was once again the pick of their bowlers as he picked up three important wickets of Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, and Shadab Khan.
Chasing an above par total on a pitch that was getting slow, Australia needed a strong start from their openers. However, it was just the opposite of that. D'Arcy Short failed to get going which slowed the pace of their innings. Aaron Finch could not repeat his heroics and he inside-edged an incoming delivery from Shaheen Afridi to the keeper. Their middle-order did not have much of the exposure to bat in the series prior to this match and it didn't help. Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, and Travis Head all departed without putting any pressure on Pakistani bowlers. Although Alex Carey hit a few boundaries towards the end of their innings, it was too little and too late.
While it wasn't a good day for Australia, they'd be particularly happy with the way they've performed in the series. Their bowlers have delivered with Tye being the pick of their bowlers. They definitely have a few holes to plug as far as their batting is concerned. D'Arcy Short needs to find a way to get going on slow wickets and their middle order needs to take some responsibility. Currently, they are a little too dependent on Aaron Finch and if their other batsmen can join the party, they'd be a tough team to beat.
Aaron Finch, Alex Carey, TM Head, Glenn Maxwell, Nic Maddinson, Marcus Stoinis, JD Wildermuth, Ashton Agar, AJ Tye, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake.
Zimbabwe suffered their third successive defeat of the series, second against Pakistan in a close encounter against Pakistan. Solomon Mire's effort went in vain as Pakistan batsmen got better of their bowlers and chased down the target of 163 with seven wickets and five balls to spare.
Zimbabwe needed something inspiring after a demoralizing loss against the men from down-under. Solomon Mire provided just that with his 63-ball 94 that took Zimbabwe's score to a reasonable total of 162. Batting first, Zimbabwe's intent was clear as Zhuwao tried to slog every delivery into the stands. He eventually got dismissed on 24 off 26 deliveries. Solomon Mire combined with Tarisai Musakanda and stitched together a 64-run stand after Hamilton Masakadza failed to deliver anything spectacular. Mire went on to play his career-best knock and the highest score by a Zimbabwe batsman in T20 Internationals, but despite his effort, Zimbabwe could just manage a par total.
To defend this par score, Zimbabwe needed to keep Pakistan from getting off to a flyer and their bowlers failed to do that. Despite Haris Sohail's pedestrian knock, Pakistan had 56 runs on the board after the powerplay finished. They were able to take some momentum off Pakistan's innings in the middle overs by picking up Fakhar Zaman and Hussain Talat, but the late surge from Sarfraz Khan and Shoaib Malik denied them a win.
Although Zimbabwe have lost their three games, they've shown signs of improvement in all those games. Their game against Pakistan was a close contest which lasted till the 40th over of the day. Zimbabwe have nothing to lose and will be playing for pride in their upcoming encounter, which might just bring out the best in them.
Cephas Zhuwao, Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Peter Moor, E Chigumbura, MTC Waller, Donald Tiripano, Brandon Mavuta, WP Masakadza, Blessing Muzarabani.
Batting second has been preferred decision in the series so far and we expect nothing different in the upcoming match as well.
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It's going to be a warm and sunny day at Harare with no chances of rain. Pitch appeared to slow down in the last match between Pakistan and Australia which is likely to happen again in this match. A total of around 170 will be a par score on this wicket.
Australian batsmen had a disappointing day against Pakistan and their bowlers lacked accuracy. Zimbabwe, too, are coming on the back of a loss and will want to redeem themselves in their last game of the series. Australia were better on the two sides when they met earlier and considering the teams on paper, we expect them to emerge on top once again.