THE REALITY CHECK - After poor showing against New Zealand, the Pakistanis will have to get that one bad day out of their minds and come back hard against Zimbabwe. Pakistan had only themselves to blame in the last game and now the green shirts need to come back strong and get themselves back to winning ways.
That game should be a wake up call for Shahid Afridi and his men and they should aim to rectify those mistakes against Zimbabwe. The African side shouldn’t be taken lightly as they are quite capable of denting any opposition on their day. They have some capable players both with bat and ball in Tatenda Taibu, Brendon Taylor, Ray Price and Prosper Utseya.
Since Zimbabweans have nothing to lose, they will be under little pressure while the Pakistanis are still haunted by drubbing against New Zealand. There is talk of dropping Kamran Akmal but doing so in a high voltage tournament like World Cup and at this point of time will be wrong. Pakistan should give him confidence and play him. The chopping and changing are post-tournament luxuries.
Umar Akmal is also having a slight finger injury scare and he might be replaced by Asad Shafiq. The batsmen need to show more responsibility and improve their shot selection. The openers need to click as they are capable enough and did well just before the tournament in New Zealand so there is no reason they can’t click once again.
In bowling Umar Gul bowled really well and it seems that he is getting his form back just at the right time. The bowlers need to work on line and length especially in the final overs. Pakistan should try to bat second if they win the toss which allow them good practice as they were found wanting chasing a total against New Zealand. A win in this game will secure Pakistan a quarterfinal berth and they should go all out today, shunning complacency which can creep against a lesser team like Zimbabwe.
Form Guide & Conditions
Pakistan have only twice lost to Zimbabwe in ODIs out of the 40 games. So there is nothing much in terms of figures. A new pitch will be used in Pallekele which is devoid of grass meaning there will be more bounce in it. Dew was also a factor at this venue in the game between Pakistan and New Zealand. Pakistan should negotiate the first 10-15 overs properly after which the batting can be pretty straight.
Watch Out For
Umar Gul is slowly but surely coming back into his groove. The lanky paceman is one of the premier seamers in the game today and bowled really well against New Zealand. Gul should aim get to get into rhythm as Pakistan will need him. With an ODI economy rate of just 3.87 Ray Price is as good as one can get. He is very tidy and doesn’t allow batsmen to score freely. Opening the bowling for Zimbabwe he can be a tricky proposition for Pakistani openers.
Pakistan should win convincingly given their superior line up after which they will register their place in the quarter-finals.