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What would regularly be like a festival in Pakistan will now be celebrated without the presence of fans in the stadium. Cricket is set to return to Pakistan after a long break with Zimbabwe touring them to play six limited-overs matches in total. The series will be played inside a biological bubble of which Pakistan are well aware, but Zimbabwe would be new to.
The tour is set to begin with a three-match One Day International series with the first match to be played on October 30. Initially, the series was set to be played at the Gadaffi Stadium, Lahore, but got moved to Rawalpindi due to pollution concerns. While Pakistan are playing at home and would certainly have an advantage, Zimbabwe will have a point to prove. This can turn out to be a hard-fought series.
Apart from playing at home, one clear advantage that Pakistan will have in the series is that of having played in the bubble before. Pakistan visited England a couple of months ago and the experience of playing inside the biological bubble could prove to be of immense value. While most of their squad is the same as the one that visited England, there are a few notable changes.
Keeping the T20 as well as the ODI World Cup in consideration, the selectors have picked a team that has a good number of youngsters. Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir, and Sarfaraz Ahmed have been dropped from the squad. Abdullah Shafique, on the other hand, is rewarded with a spot after exhibiting splendid form in the National T20 Cup, which is Pakistan's domestic T20 competition.
Despite the absence of three experienced players, Pakistan's lineup doesn't really lack experience. With the likes of Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, and Imad Wasim available in the squad, the team on the ground is likely to have an excellent amalgamation of youth and experience.
Historically, Pakistan have always been a stronger side between the two and have the results to back that fact. Having said that, they have been pretty unpredictable of late and will be wary of that as well. They were pretty severe when they visited Zimbabwe the last time and with the home advantage, they could be an even tougher force to deal with not just in the upcoming match, but in the series as well.
Abid Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, SI Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf.
Cricket in Zimbabwe surged in the late 90s and early 2000s and has more or less struggled since the retirement of their stalwarts. They still appear to be in a rebuilding phase and their head coach, Lalchand Rajput, has done a tremendous job to put them back on track. However, the team will be without Lalchand Rajput and Douglas Hondo will play the leading role in the team's staff.
Led by Chamu Chibhabha, Zimbabwe will be thrilled with the return of Blessing Muzarabani, who left to play for Northamptonshire. The other notable inclusions in the squad for Zimbabwe are Sean Williams, Brendan Taylor, Elton Chigumbura, and Sikandar Raza. Apart from those veterans, Zimbabwe have some exciting young crickets who would have a lot to prove. Faraz Akram, Milton Shumba, and Roy Kaia would be the youngsters to watch out for.
Zimbabwe haven't really played Cricket for a long time now with their last international engagement being the one against Bangladesh. While they pretty much have the same core, a lot has changed since then. Apart from that, the Zimbabweans will have the challenge to adjust to the conditions in Pakistan. Considering that they'll be playing in a biological bubble, it is not going to be easy.
All in all, this Zimbabwean team certainly isn't short on talent and ability. They have got some very capable players, but the lack of recent experience is a tough-to-ignore factor. They'd need to play out of their skins right from the very beginning and if they are able to do that, they can really get off to a flying start.
BRM Taylor, Craig Ervine, Brian Chari, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Chamu Chibhabha, Wesley Madhevere, Tendai Chisoro, Carl Mumba, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava.
The two teams are playing after a long break and would want to see how the surface behaves. Also, there will be a bit of rustiness and no batsmen would want to bat in the morning on a juicy wicket. Dew is likely to make batting easier in the second half of the second innings and both sides will want to take advantage of that. For all those factors, we think the captain winning the toss will want to field first.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
It's been a while since we last saw a match played at Rawalpindi. However, there have been a few domestic matches played here in recent times and by the looks of it, the nature of the surface hasn't really changed much. The average score batting first in the last five matches here is around 220, which clearly implies the bowlers having an edge. We do not really see Pakistan hosting matches at this time of the year as temperatures start to drop. Due to that reason, the surface will have some juice for the fast bowlers early on and dew will play a role in the second half. While batting first will not be easy, the team batting first will want to post an above-par total. Anything over 250 should be a good score here.
Check out the Dream11 fantasy team lineup for the 1st ODI between Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Don't forget to check back the latest updated team lineup right after the toss.
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While the scoreboard may not suggest the same, Pakistan had a pretty decent tour of England, at least in the two shorter versions of the game. They kept the hosts on their toes for a pretty good part of the tour, but a few minor mistakes allowed England to emerge on top. Pakistan are known to have a habit of making crazy mistakes and will be wary of that. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, will be pretty wary of Pakistan's strength. As the two teams are playing after a long time, expect the two teams to be a bit rusty. Pakistan are a stronger team between the two teams and have a lot less to adjust to. Considering that as well as the above-stated factors, they walk in as firm favorites to emerge on top in the upcoming contest.
Zimbabwe got a huge boost with Blessing Muzarabani joining them. He has arguably been the standout bowler for the visitors in recent times and will be a threat to Pakistan. He consistently bowls over 140kmph and gets movement of the deck. Given the returns on offer, this certainly seems to be a lucrative punt.
Babar Azam is undoubtedly Pakistan's best batsman and has been extremely consistent in recent times. He generally plays risk-free Cricket and against bowling that is not penetrative, he is pretty likely to play a big knock. This definitely is a bet worth making.
While Pakistan have a decent batting unit and have played Cricket recently, Zimbabwe are taking the field after a long time. They are likely to have trouble adapting to the conditions, which will be a lot different to those they experience at home. We expect them to have a poor outing in the upcoming match and, therefore, the match total is unlikely to exceed 471 runs.
While the returns on offer on this bet aren't really much, this is a pretty safe bet. Zimbabwe are known to be slow starters whereas Pakistan are likely to go hard with Fakhar Zaman at the top. Make this easy punt to boost your bankroll.
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