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Zimbabwe's Chevrons target Pakistan upset

by Staff reporter
27 Oct 2022 at 06:07hrs | Views
FROM one big test to another, the Zimbabwe national cricket team are today set to continue with their search of a big scalp at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup when they face former champions Pakistan at the Perth Stadium in Perth, Australia.

The match is expected to start at 1pm Zimbabwean time (7pm in Perth).

Zimbabwe, playing in the second round for the first time in six T20 World Cup appearances, are looking to leave a mark at this year's edition.

Skipper Craig Ervine told reporters yesterday that the Chevrons are prepared to fight for the points in Group 2, which is currently led by Bangladesh and India.

The Zimbabweans, though, have to overcome their struggles against quality pace and quality batsmen. They were reminded of this handicap in their first Super 12 stage game against South Africa, which was eventually interrupted by rain, on Monday, for a share of the spoils.

Pakistan have some high quality bowlers Shaheen Shah, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan, who is fast becoming one of the world's best spin bowlers.

Ervine believes they have done enough homework, though.

"I'm pretty sure that Pakistan will be coming hard at us tomorrow (today). They've got some really quality bowlers up front there with the new ball. So that will be a big challenge for us," said Ervine.

"Looking at quite a few games that have been played, that first sort of five, six overs with the new ball is challenging for every team.

"It's a key area for us to try and get through with the bat and try and capitalise on a lot of 2s with the bigger boundaries in those middle overs.

"I don't think you sit back and let quality bowlers like that bowl at you, otherwise it's going to be a matter of time before they get you out.

"It will be a case of trying to make sure that you're putting them under just as much pressure as what they're putting you under.

"You can't get in your shell. We have a longish batting order. We have to back everyone.

Perth is obviously going to be a little quicker than Hobart, so we'll have to try to assess those conditions and try our best to get a decent score on the board."

Zimbabwe and Pakistan have met 17 times previously in the shortest version of the game, with the Asians dominating most of the contests.

But this is the first time they are facing off at the ICC T20 World Cup.

Pakistan, who were winners of the ICC T20 World Cup 2009 edition, are ranked fourth while Zimbabwe are 11th.

The Chevrons are still smarting from the opening match against South Africa which degenerated to a farcical ending after the umpires somehow made the decision to continue playing when the conditions had become dangerous to the players because of the rain.

Zimbabwe bowlers were exposed to high risks of injury as they attempted to defend 79/5.

Their game had been reduced to a nine-over contest, initially, because of the frequent rain interruptions.

"The game against South Africa was a little bit of a bizarre evening," said Ervine.

"From a batting perspective, we were trying to work out how best to go about getting a decent score in nine overs.

We knew we had to go fairly hard up front to get off to a good start.

"The weather looks good tomorrow evening (today) though, so we can go back to our game-plan knowing we have a full 20 overs to bat. Our batting innings will look more calm and composed."

Zimbabwe will look forward to improved batting from their top order. Zimbabwe have a long batting line-up which includes the captain Ervine, Regis Chakabva, Sean Williams, Wessly Madhevere, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Ryan Burl and Luke Jongwe.

Ironically, Raza, who was born in Sialkot, Pakistan, is expected to play a key role for Zimbabwe against the country of his birth.

The Chevrons technical team are also likely to keep faith in the trio of Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava to spearhead the bowling attack, with Jongwe also an option.

The good news is that Ngarava, who slipped and injured his ankle during the match against South Africa, is expected to be back for the encounter.

"I'm safe, thank you for the support. I really appreciate it," Ngarava posted on his Twitter in response to the fears by concerned fans.

But in the event he does not make it, Brad Evans could make his T20I World Cup debut under the guidance of players like Chakabva, who is the most experienced player in the squad.

The wicketkeeper/batsman featured in the very first T20I meeting between Zimbabwe and Pakistan at the Maple Leaf North-West Ground in Ontario, during the Canada T20 Quadrangular that also involved hosts and Sri Lanka in 2008.

Zimbabwe went on to lose 15 straight T20Is against Pakistan. They only broke the duck last year with a 19 runs victory at the Harare Sports Club.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, who both dominated the series that Zimbabwe lost 1-2, are again the men to watch out for.

The Pakistanis are desperate to put points on the board after losing to old foes India by four wickets in a high-stakes thriller at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Pakistan's Iftikhar Ahmed admitted his side were "heartbroken" and still hurting from their agonising opening defeat to arch-rivals India at the Twenty20 World Cup.

The middle-order batsman hit 51 runs in Pakistan's 159/8, but it turned out to be just not quite enough.

"The hurt remains after losing such a big match. We were heartbroken," he said.

"The way Babar and the management supported the players, it was good. Babar and the coaches told us that ‘it was not our last game, everybody put in the effort'. So our morale is high."

Pakistan are strongly fancied to beat Zimbabwe and belatedly get their World Cup going. Pakistan need a victory for their confidence too.

"Zimbabwe is an international team and we have to play strong against them like any other team," said the 32-year-old Iftikhar.

"Important to play well and keep up the confidence. The players are hungry to perform."

Pakistan pace bowler Haris Rauf bowled well at the MCG until he was hit for two successive sixes by Kohli in a game-changing moment at the end of the 19th over.

"The Australian pitches are fast and bouncy and we have prepared for that," said Iftikhar. "Haris is our main strike bowler and we expect him to bowl better here and win it for Pakistan."

Source - The Herald