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Pakistan registered its second win of the five-match series against Zimbabwe in what is fast becoming a complete farce of a contest. Zimbabwe was playing without as many as eight of its first choice players while the current Champions Trophy Champions were playing with their full strength team. With things unlikely to change for Zimbabwe anytime soon, can they put up any kind of a fight or is it just about the margin of victory for Pakistan?
Malcolm Waller becomes the latest player to pull out from the Zimbabwe series as Zimbabwe slide deeper and deeper into a hole. Still, the team can only play with the players that it has and hope for one of them to really stand up.
For a very short while in the second match, it seemed like Hamilton Masakadza and Musakanda were going to be those players. They stitched together a decent partnership and seemed to be lifting Zimbabwe towards a decent total but the wicket of Musakanda to a dodgy decision changed all that.
Masakadza used his experience and shed off some of the rust to play a fighting knock of 59 but he too could not go on to get a really big score. Moor contributed with a sedate 50 and helped Zimbabwe reach 195.
There was no way that a score of 195 was going to be enough for Pakistan especially against this depleted Zimbabwe attack. Muzarabani again stood out as the bowler most likely to pick a wicket but he was never going to run through the opposition on his own.
There were a few glimmers of hope for Zimbabwe in this match. Maybe if its batsmen had scored a few more runs then the bowlers could have used that scoreboard pressure to their advantage. There is not much else that Zimbabwe can do but hope for some better individual performances in the series.
Their players are outclassed in every department so blaming them for the huge margins of victory is unfair.
Chamu Chibhabha, Prince Masvaure, Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Peter Moor, E Chigumbura, Ryan Murray, Tendai Chisoro, WP Masakadza, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava.
Another victory registered by Pakistan without ever breaking a sweat. The bowlers did the job for Pakistan as they restricted Zimbabwe for a small total. Usman Khan took four wickets, Hasan Ali took three, and every other bowler had an excellent economy rate to boast of. Perhaps, the fact that Mohammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf went wicketless could be the only criticism that could be laid at Pakistan.
Hasan Ali seemed to have sprained his neck going for one of his trademark celebrations after taking a wicket and so Pakistan may look to rotate a few bowlers.
In our opinion, Pakistan would be much better served by playing some of its reserve players to expand the pool of players for the World Cup that is fast approaching. The question of victory does not appear to be in question and there is next to no value to be had for punters.
Perhaps betting on the highest scorer or highest wicket taker is something that can prove to be more valuable. We think Mohamad Amir and Babar Azam are due for some solid returns in the upcoming match.
Amir went wicketless in the second ODI and only took one wicket in the first one but his bowling has been pretty good. Babar Azam has similarly looked in prime touch whenever he gets the chance to bat. One of the openers has scored a century in both the matches but batting at number 3, Azam is bound to get his opportunity soon enough.
None of the players in the Pakistani team looked flustered or under pressure at any time. This series is like an extended net session for them. It would be best for the team if they treated it this way and rotated some of its players for the next few matches.
Imam-ul-Haq, F Zaman, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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The weather in Bulawayo has been dry so far and the same is expected for the third match of the series. The pitch is flat and offers very little to either side. The bowling can put pressure on the batsmen if it is disciplined because the slowness of the surface makes run-scoring difficult.
Pakistan should have no trouble crossing 300 if it bats first but we think 200-225 seems like the upper limit for this Zimbabwe team.
Pakistan to win