Last chance saloon for Zimbabwe as Pakistan pose stiff challenge

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THE tri-series has reached its midpoint. The teams involved played two games each, and are left with two each to stake a claim for the final on Sunday.

Both Pakistan and Zimbabwe were wrestled into submission by Australia, who now perch pretty at the top of the points table after successive wins.

Hosts Zimbabwe haven’t helped themselves with back-to-back losses and now find themselves in a must-win game against Pakistan on Wednesday (July 4).

A loss, in all likelihood, could mean curtains for Zimbabwe and the last opposition they – or any other team – would want to face in such a situation would be a number-one ranked side. It’s the last chance saloon for the home side, a daunting one at that.

The promise Zimbabwe showed in the tri-series opener now seems a long time ago.

Winning the toss, incidentally, was the only thing that worked in their favour, but that said, chasing totals haven’t helped their cause after losing games in a meek-surrender resulting in a huge dent in their net run rate (-4.350) while at it.

So to speak, the home team should not only win their remaining games but have to win big to stand any chance of making it to the weekend.

Pakistan, albeit, would be better off facing Zimbabwe after being blown away by Billy Stanlake’s hostile spell, on Monday, which saw them stoop to their biggest loss in the format (in terms of balls remaining).

The Asian side, however, will also know that their hopes of making it to the final will firmly rest on the outcome of the Wednesday clash and could come prepared for the contest with an ‘all guns blazing’ intent.

When: July 4, Wednesday at 10:00 AM local time

Where: The Harare Sports Club, Harare

What to expect: No chances of rain. It is expected to be bright and sunny throughout.

Team news

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe could ponder leaving John Nyumbu for Wellington Masakadza. The former opened the bowled in both games and remained wicket-less whilst conceding at over 10 RPO. Chris Mpofu, who replaced the injured Kyle Jarvis, went for plenty against Australia and should they decide on a straight swap, Donald Tiripano might come into contention.

Zimbabwe playing XI (probable): Solomon Mire, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza (c), Tarisai Musakanda, Peter Moor (w), Elton Chigumbura, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chisoro, Chris Mpofu/ Donald Tiripano, John Nyumbu/Wellington Masakadza, Blessing Muzarabani

What they said:

“I think we can bowl a bit better first up, in the Powerplay where we have conceded a lot in both the games. Apart from that, we’ve done decently, especially our top order but need support from others,” Hamilton Masakadza, the Zimbabwean skipper, after his team’s humiliating 100-run loss against Australia.

“If you lose too many wickets early, You can’t survive in the match, hopefully we will come back well next game,” Sarfraz Ahmed said after the team’s biggest loss (in runs) in T20Is.