Zimbabwe v Pakistan 2nd T20I preview: Hosts look to level the series

Zimbabwe v Pakistan 2nd T20I preview: Hosts look to level the series

Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal (C) in action
Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal (C) in action as Zimbabwe wicket keeper Richmond Mutumbami looks on (L) during the first of two T20 cricket matches between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Zimbabwe v Pakistan 2nd T20I preview: Hosts look to level the series: Pakistan bowlers led by their left arm spinner, Imad Wasim, penetrated through the batting line-up of Zimbabwe and clinched the opening T20I by a small margin of 13 runs. The Green Shirts scored 136 runs for the loss of eight wickets and restricted the hosts at

9-123 at the end of the match. Zimbabwe will now be looking to bounce back and deliver the killer blow which they lacked in the first game. It was a huge opportunity missed considering they restricted Pakistan to a much lesser total compared to international standards.

The Harare wicket which was under much scrutiny in the first game will be expected to play better for the batters this time. But the performance of both teams was not only a reflection of the pitch. It also showed that some beautiful demonstration of bowling can make even a small score look daunting.

The visitors will, however, be concerned with their batting. Mukhtar and Shehzad failed to give them a solid start and the top order almost crumbled. Had it not been for a rearguard effort of 33 not out by Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan would have struggled to even reach 136. Imad Wasim, the man of the match made a worthy contribution scoring 19 off 12 balls late down the order. Shoaib Malik made 35 but was not at his sublime best.

For Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura took the first match into the last over with the home side needing 16 to win having two wickets in hand, but Imran Khan who was playing his first match held his nerve to secure a win for Pakistan. The biggest positive for the hosts was Chamu Chibhabha. He finished with figures of 3 for 18 from three overs, and also took an outstanding catch in the outfield to dismiss Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi late in the innings. That helped Zimbabwe prevent the onslaught at the death that their bowlers have been vulnerable to, this year.

Hamilton Masakadza’s steady 25 kept the hosts in the game as they headed towards the halfway stage of their chase, before Wasim returned to take a wicket in each of his remaining three overs and leave Zimbabwe’s lower order with too much to do. Wasim’s figures eventually read 4-11.

They will have to pull their socks up quickly or should be ready to face the misery of a series whitewash. Zimbabwe should focus on not getting too concerned with the spin in the track and play their natural game. They put up an improved show considering their 80 run loss to New Zealand earlier this year in the lone T20I but will have to devise a method to ensure that the efforts culminate in results.

If they fail to do so it will be difficult to justify the changes they made to the squad that faced the Kiwis. Masakadza will need support from the likes of Sikandar Raza, and Sean Williams to script the turnaround.

Pakistan is having the momentum and a win will not only help them whitewash the series but put them in good stead ahead of the 3 ODIs. The hosts, on the other hand, will take this as a stepping stone to reviving their limited over fortunes.

Pitch:

The wicket proved to be a heaven for the bowlers, in the first game and took a vicious turn as the batsmen struggled. Chances are it may not change its behaviour.

Probable XI:

Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (c), Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Richmond Mutumbami, Luke Jongwe, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Tinashe Panyangara.

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (c), Ahmed Shehzad, Mukhtar Ahmed, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan (jnr), Sohail Tanvir