Cricket: Can Zimbabwe sneak it?

BUOYED by Tuesday’s impressive seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the opening one-day international (ODI), the Zimbabwe cricket team will look to seal a rare series win against a top cricketing side with a match to spare in the second match at Harare Sports Club this morning.

REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Zimbabwe, who had succumbed to a 2-0 loss in the Twenty20 (T20) series bounced back in style to shock the cricket world with a stunning all-round display as they recorded their first ODI win over Pakistan since 1998.

Led by half centuries from Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda, Zimbabwe chased down Pakistan’s modest 244 for seven in 48,2 overs to hand their coach Andy Waller his first win since taking charge of the team.

An elated Waller said while they would cherish the sensational victory, they were not going to rest on their laurels as they expected Pakistan to come back strongly.
“We had a good win, but we have a lot to work on. We have put in a huge amount of work in the last two months.

“I knew it would come, I believed in my players and I think the turning point was the way we played in the T20s. Our batters showed we can play against a quality bowling attack and went into today’s game with a lot of self-belief and that made all the difference.

“Look, we know how good Pakistan are and we know the quality and character of their players and we know they are going to come back hard at us, but we are not going to rest on our laurels because we know we have to perform better.

“We are not at our best yet, I think our batting looks good at the moment. Our bowling was good and a couple of bowlers bowled well, but we still got a lot to work on.

“We are going to enjoy the moment, but we are going to come back even harder in the next match because obviously we want to win the series. It’s something people don’t expect, but as a team we believe we can do it,” Waller said.

After seeing his players put down five catches, Waller said the team’s fielding remained an area of serious concern as his charges could have restricted Pakistan to a far lesser total if they had held their catches.

Both Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad were put down during an opening partnership of 56, while Hafeez was let off on 10 and 55.

“In as far as our fielding, we saw we dropped about four or five catches, which is not good enough and is worrying because we had put in a lot of practice in our fielding. But we will keep working and hopefully we will improve in the next game,” he said.

Meanwhile, middle-order batsman Timycen Maruma, who has surprisingly been preferred in all matches so far ahead of Sikandar Raza, looks set to be given another chance despite finding the going tough in all matches so far.

Maruma, who started off as a leg-spinner before shifting his focus to batting, almost handed the initiative back to Pakistan during Tuesday’s run chase as he struggled to rotate the strike at a crucial stage of the match.

Waller, however, backed Maruma and hinted that the 25-year-old batsmen would remain in the team.

“Timycen is a very good batter, that’s why he is there. He has proved it at practices and the last couple of weeks. We know he can bat, he’s young and we know it’s a pressure situation. There was discussion of him changing (his batting position) and I didn’t want that to happen.

“For some reason I had a gut feeling and when I have that feeling throughout my career I have tried to stick with it. To me it paid off. You never know Sean Williams might have gone in and not got runs. I believe in Tim, he’s a good
cricketer. He’ll shine in the future.”

With Maruma expected to retain his place in the team, Zimbabwe are expected to keep faith in the team that did duty on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan are expected to make changes to their team following the shock defeat on Tuesday. Middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq who was left out in the squad for the first match, could make a return to the side to bolster the middle order ahead of Umar Amin who managed just a single run.

Veteran left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman is also expected to make a return.

Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 4 Timycen Maruma (Sikandar Raza), 5 Sean Williams, 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Tendai Chatara, 10 Brian Vitori, 11 Tinashe Panyangara

Pakistan (possible) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Asad Shafiq/Umar Amin, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Asad Ali/Abdur Rehman, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan

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