BULAWAYO: Riding on their recent success in the Twenty20 International tri-series last week in Harare, Pakistan will take some confidence going into the first of the five-match one-day international series against Zimbabwe.
Unlike their gallant victories in the shortest format of the game, Pakistan’s 50-over form has been a mixed bag. Their most recent ODI series against New Zealand resulted in a 5-0 thrashing in January earlier this year. The string of losses saw Pakistan slip to No.5 on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for men and they will have to win the five-match ODI series here by at least a margin of 4-1 or better to not fall further to sixth place. They have the talent and form to achieve that and will be aiming for nothing less than a clean sweep against a depleted Zimbabwe outfit.
Fakhar Zaman was outstanding in the T20I tri-series and was named Player of the Series for his 278 runs in five outings. He will again shoulder the responsibility to get the side off to a blazing start along with Imam-ul-Haq, who has shown good temperament in the handful of matches he has been a part of.
Babar Azam’s return to the ODI side, having missed the last few games due to a fractured wrist, will bolster the Pakistan batting unit, while Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed will provide much-needed experience.
Their bowling attack has also been steady. Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali will lead the pace attack, while in Usman Shinwari and the returning Junaid Khan, the visitors have the advantage of variety. Yasir Shah’s return to the national fold since his hip injury will add further punch to the bowling department, while it remains to be seen whether Pakistan, already having Shadab Khan in the mix, will go with two leg-spinners or not.