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Pakistan vs Zimbabwe Preview

by Prosper Tsvanhu
21 May 2015 at 08:55hrs | Views
Zimbabwe enter into the two-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan hoping that the hype surrounding security concerns will eventually settle down to allow them to focus on their core business, which is to play cricket.

Team captain Elton Chigumbura has been stressing all week in his interactions with the media that ultimately as players "their job is to play cricket," and on bravado and boldness alone his team has won the hearts of many in their stance to tour out of their own volition. The key will be to channel this attitude on to the field of play, where it matters the most, in order to produce good entertainment value for the highly expectant cricket fraternity.

Mindful of the Twenty20 World cup coming up in March next year, it will be imperative for Dave Whatmore and his troops to use the matches against Pakistan as a means to establish a style of play together with building the kind of momentum that will give the team a chance to compete for honors at the showpiece event to be held in India.

Doubtless, Zimbabwe will be looking for a 'main actor' to fill the void left by Brendan Taylor, and if the just ended fifty-over World Cup is anything to go by, Sean Williams could be the man fit for the bill.

The stylish left-hander has bankable improvisation stroke play with proven effectiveness in sweeping and manipulating the ball into vacant areas in the field. When you factor in the energy he brings on the park as well, Williams is the ideal player for Zimbabwe to meet the dynamic demands of the shorter format of the game.

He will have returnee Charles Coventry for company in that top order batting department. Coventry's clean hitting abilities will provide a different dimension to the team's tactics, particularly in terms of getting off to explosive starts in that mandatory six-over powerplay block which in modern day cricket is now a prerequisite for winning games.

Coventry also provides an option as glove man and during the team's preparation in Zimbabwe there were considerations of entrusting him with responsibilities behind the stumps, which if done will create room for an extra batsman in the line-up. Richmond Mutumbami remains available for cover if selectors opt to employ a specialist wicket keeper.

Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Sikander Raza Butt, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Craig Ervine should form the nucleus of the rest of the top and middle order with Chigumbura providing the finishing touches. The series should serve as a stern examination of their comprehension to rotate strike, accumulate singles and find the boundary, all important attributes of the Twenty20 version.

On his maiden international tour, Roy Kaia could also be called into action as cover, and his inclusion is testament to Dave Whatmore's faith in the standard of domestic cricket in Zimbabwe given that Kaia scored the most runs in the Pro50 competition, amassing 382 runs in nine outings at a healthy average of 76.40.

On the bowling front, the Matebeleland Tuskers bowling trio of Chris Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa and Brian Vitori will be expected to shoulder the bulk of the bowling workload on either side of the bowling innings. Mpofu is a fresh inclusion in the side after missing out in recent times owing to injury, and the fact that he finished as top wicket-taker in the domestic season should give him ample wind in his sails for the series.

Tinashe Panyangara is also amongst the bowling stock and still remains a competent opening bowler as he demonstrated during the World Cup.

The spin department will create headaches for the selectors in light of the options available. On the one hand there is Prosper Utseya, a proven match-winner right until he had to re-model his action, and on the other there is Graeme Cremer, a useful leg spinner who bowls with a nice loop and control, but his lengthy period out the game makes his output unpredictable.

While conditions in Pakistan at this stage are difficult to predict given that there has been no cricket there in six years, history suggests they will support spin bowling rather than seam or swing, hence the need to employ horses for courses in Utseya and Cremer's case. Be that as it may, the bits-and pieces of Raza and Chigumbura could be relied upon to sneak in a quiet over or two.

In no uncertain terms the Pakistan team still goes in as the favorites as they lie fifth on the T20 rankings. After a dismal showing in Bangladesh last month the home side will be keen to get back to winning ways, especially in front of their cricket starved supporters who will no doubt pack the stands to welcome back international cricket on home soil.

The home team contains players who can compete against the best the game has to offer like their Shahid Afridi.

Zimbabwe will however rely on the unpredictability of the shorter version of the game, and will hope to play good cricket on the day that will hopefully be enough to cause an upset.

Prosper Tsvanhu can be contacted at

Source - Prosper Tsvanhu
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