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We witnessed a complete mismatch between Zimbabwe and Pakistan in the first match and the fact that there are four more such contests to look forward to seems criminal. There was nothing to suggest that Pakistan was tested or even flustered as it registered a massive victory. Can Zimbabwe rustle up a miracle from somewhere in the upcoming match?
Having put in Pakistan to bat, the first 15 or so overs went pretty well for Zimbabwe. They did not pick up a wicket but kept a lid on the scoring by the Pakistani batsmen. Their opening bowlers, Chatara and Muzarabani were impressive but their brief parity always seemed short lived.
The Pakistani batsmen started opening up and scoring easily after a while and the Zimbabwe bowlers did not have any answers. Roche, one of the debutants, bowled some non-threatening off-spinners that the Pakistani batsmen will be lining up to face again. The few overs from Chibhabha were easy pickings and Tiripano owed his wickets to the batsmen making mistakes rather than anything special he did with the ball.
All things considered, Zimbabwe were lucky to have gotten away with a target of just 309. By current ODI standards, that score was barely par and Pakistan will definitely want to have done better.
There is nothing positive that can be written about the Zimbabwe batting effort. They offered little to no resistance to the Pakistani bowlers and looked incapable of playing out the overs forget chasing down the total.
Hamilton Masakadza is the only player that can be expected to offer some hope for the upcoming matches, although, Musakanda and Murray showed some glimpses of talent as well. Zimbabwe’s batting has deep-seated problems which are not going to disappear in the matter of a few days.
Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Peter Moor, Ryan Murray, Donald Tiripano, Liam Roche, WP Masakadza, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani.
Victory was never really in question for Pakistan and even though they won by over 200 runs, we think the Pakistanis would be a little disappointed with their performance. Zimbabwe managed to keep its batsmen on a leash for a large part of the inning which should be a massive concern. Asif Ali was the only batsman to have a strike rate of above 100 in the top-order.
Imam Ul Haq scored a century but his strike rate was poor and he did not display the fitness to play the power game after spending any considerable time in the middle. Against a better side, this is going to be a huge problem.
Pakistan will want to use this series to identify players for the future and in that respect, Asif Ali certainly seems to be one. He scored 46 from 25 balls and was able to clear the boundary with ease. Pakistan has been crying out for a power player in the lower middle order for quite some time now and Asif Ali is primed to fill that position.
With Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, and now Asif Ali in the side, the Pakistani batting has started to take a formidable look. Its bowling has always been incisive and this time is no different.
Usman Khan bowled with fire, Mohammad Amir was his usually brilliant self, and Faheem Ashraf was good as well but the best bowler on this day was Shadab Khan. His mix of leg spin and googlies was too good for Zimbabwe. We can easily foresee a rich haul of wickets for him at the end of this series.
Imam-ul-Haq, F Zaman, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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The pitch in Bulawayo was expectedly flat and slow. It takes a real effort from the bowlers to be able to generate some life from that pitch and the batsmen struggle to time the ball as well. The same kind of surface, perhaps, even slower can be expected for this match.
A score of around 330 should be expected if Pakistan bats first. If Zimbabwe bats first then we think they will struggle to get 200.
Pakistan to win. It’s as close to a certainty as you can get in cricket.