About the Match
After 6 years of long wait, Pakistan is finally hosting a series, albeit against Zimbabwe. On Friday, May 22nd, the Gaddafi Stadium of Lahore will be turned into a fortress when Zimbabwe play against the hosts Pakistan in the first T20I of the series. It is the first time Pakistan are playing at their home soil since 2009, when militants attacked the Pakistan and Sri Lankan team. Although the roads have been closed around the stadium, restaurants and shops have been shuttered down, there is no shortage of excitement in the crowd. Tickets are already sold out and we are bound to see queues outside and noise to support their team inside the stadium. Pakistan would love to win the first home battle after a long time whereas Zimbabwe will be looking to extend their good show which they had during the World Cup.
Pakistan hasn't tasted much of success lately. There World Cup campaign was fine, but they've gone downhill ever since. They lost to Bangladesh in a bilateral series in both limited overs formats of the game. The Shahid Afridi led team would be looking to bring about a change in their fortunes. More than 60 percent of Pakistan's squad have not played an international match in Pakistan. Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik make their way back into the squad on the back of a few good domestic performances. They have Wahab Riaz, Bilawal Bhatti and Mohammad Sami shouldering the responsibility of bowling attack. They have all-rounders in Mohd. Hafeez and Shoaib Malik to assist the bowlers in the middle overs. Overall, this Pakistan side looks good, but would have perform in the field. Along with the excitement of playing at home, they'd be under tremendous pressure to perform.
Zimbabwe had the World Cup campaign which they'd love to remember for a long time. Although they failed to register a win against a major team in that competition, they played well, gave scares to almost all test playing nations and impressed one and all. However, there are plenty of changes to the squad they played at World Cup and the most important one being the absence of Brendan Taylor. Six players have been brought back into the international team including Charlers Coventry, Vusi Sibanda, Graeme Cremer, Christopher Mpofu, Brian Vitori and Richmond Mutumbami. Zimbabwe has always been an unpredictable and fun-to-watch side and we expect the same from them yet again; they can surprise one and all with their game, but the void created by Taylor's retirement will surely be felt.
It is the clash between two unpredictable sides at a ground where an international match is being played after six years. Pakistan will have the crowd behind their back whereas Zimbabwe will be looking to make a few fans count which they'll have at the stadium. Both teams have recalled their previous players into the squad to provide them with experience. T20 is the most unpredictable form of the game and with two unpredictable sides playing, it becomes more so. Pakistan's squad having been more familiar with the conditions and with crowd behind their back start as clear favorites.