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Sports

Web Desk
October 30, 2020

Pakistan vs Zimbabwe ODI: Babar Azam decides to bat first after winning toss

Sports

Web Desk
Fri, Oct 30, 2020
The captains of Pakistan and Zimbabwe cricket teams look on during toss for first ODI in Rawalpindi.

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan's ODI Captain Babar Azam won the toss and decided to bat first on Friday as Pakistan kick-starts its Cricket World Cup Super League campaign with the first ODI of a three-match series against Zimbabwe in Rawalpindi.

The opening match at the Pindi Stadium is Babar Azam’s first as Pakistan’s ODI captain. It is also the first international match to be played in the country without spectators.

A dominant Pakistan thumped Zimbabwe 5-0 in a 2018 ODI series, winning every match fair and square. Things, however, have changed since then. Inclusion of some senior players such as Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine has given some impetus to the touring side.

“Our biggest problem is we often fall short of the finish line. The same happened when we just missed qualifying for the last World Cup. Overcoming these shortcomings are part of our plan,” Zimbabwe captain Chamu Chibhabha said while talking to media persons on the eve of the first ODI.

“We want our players to play a winning role rather than just hitting fifty and sixty and ending up on the losing side. Our main players need to guide the team.”

Chibhabha said Zimbabwe players had worked on their flaws and hoped that they would be able to execute their plans in the series.

Babar warns against complacency

“The boys are excited to take on Pakistan and give their best. We are capable of winning and going all the way, especially in presence of some experienced players. We will look to put Pakistan bowlers under pressure. We aim to put 300 plus on the board which will provide a good opportunity to our bowlers to have a go at the Pakistan batting,” he said.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam hinted at using the series to try out the team’s bench strength. “We have selected a talented bunch of players including Khushdil Shah, Zafar Gohar, Usman Qadir and Haris Rauf. We have some tough assignments ahead so it is a good option to try out backup players in the home series,” he said.

Babar said the crowd would be badly missed inside the stadium. Playing in front of the crowd, especially at home, players get all pumped up and try to make an extra effort. But no one can do anything as we have to be careful because of the COVID-19 situation. We hope and pray for the crowd’s early return to all sporting events.”

Head-to-head

Pakistan and Zimbabwe have faced each other 59 times. The Greenshirts have won 52 and lost four of those encounters with one tie and two no-results.

Pitch and weather conditions

The pitch prepared for the opening match looks like a perfect batting strip. As is the usual case at the Pindi Stadium, seamers could get some assistance early on with the new ball.

“We have tried to prepare a sporting track, a bit tilted in favour of the batsmen considering it is one-day cricket. I hope like the National T20 Cup, these pitches will not disappoint fans,” head curator Mohammad Ashraf said.

The weather in Rawalpindi is expected to be dry and clear throughout the series.

Teams

Pakistan

Abid Ali, Imam ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf

Zimbabwe

Sikandar Raza, Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Wesley Madhevere, Sean Williams, Carl Mumba, Tendai Chisoro, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava

Match officials

Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Asif Yaqoob (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Javed Malik (match referee).