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Pakistan confident of turning it around against Zimbabwe

BRISBANE–February 28, 2015: Pakistan is looking to turn it around big time and get their so far lacklustre World Cup campaign going with a win over Zimbabwe in their crucial Pool B match here on Sunday.

With two defeats in two games, the green shirts seem to be in a spot of bother but skipper Misbah-ul Haq and head coach Waqar Younis are confident Team Pakistan is just one solid victory away from getting back to and then staying on its winning ways deep into the knockout stage.

In 1992 here in the Antipodes, Pakistan had met Zimbabwe in a situation much akin to today’s – with their backs to the wall. A win then had ensured Pakistan survived. The rest is history.

Is there an augury here?

Misbah in his pre-match presser, a mandatory exercise in all the ICC events, underscored the importance of the fixture for Team Pakistan. "It's an important game for us, a must-win one, so we need to improve our performance here and show what we are capable of."

He also mentioned his men being charged up for the match.

The good news for a much-dented-by-injury Pakistan came on Friday afternoon when opener Ahmed Shehzad was declared fit after an MRI revealed his ankle injury was not serious. Ahmed was very much part of the training Saturday, batted on the nets too, and seemed determined to do well up-front.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, go into the game on the back of a four-wicket win over the minnows UAE, a 62-run loss to South Africa and a 73-run defeat by the West Indies in a game where Chris Gayle clubbed his way to the first double century in World Cup history.

Zimbabwe has up till now found it hard to restrict opposition batsmen. The two frontline teams that they have faced, West Indies and South Africa, feasted on their bowling attack – if one could call it that – with great relish, piling 372 for two and 339 for four respetively.

Pakistani batsmen must be aiming at prolonging their agony by having an emphatic say on the proceedings Sunday.

Not having played a match since February 21, the break giving them plenty of time to mull over their issues and ironing them out, Team Pakistan will be buoyed by the fact that they have traditionally held a whip hand over Zimbabwe – their record showing a staggering 27 wins out of 30 ODI outings.

In their most recent series, in Harare in 2013, though the result was 2-1, the surprise win for the hosts came in the opener. And Team in Green must beware: the three big achievers then – Hamilton Masakadza (85), Brendan Taylor (43) and Sean Williams (39) – are all likely to be part of the lineup at the Gabba on Sunday.

Zimbabwe's only other two wins came way back in 1995 in Harare and in 1999 in Sheikhupura.

Misbah has stressed on his men to forget the result of the previous two games, and focus at the task ahead. "We just need to perform to our potential in the game at hand," said he.

Zimbabwe have two points from three Pool B games with skipper Elton Chigumbura demanding his bowlers match the promising form of the team's batsmen.

"We feel like we're going towards the right directions, and with (coach) Dav Whatmore, since he took over, up to now we've been playing positive cricket," said Chigumbura.

"Our batting used to let us down, but at the moment it's the one that is actually being consistent more than the bowling. We just need to polish up on our bowling and fielding."