The Pakistan cricket squad arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday ready to test its ammunition ahead of the World Twenty-20 next year, but the hosts see this as an opportunity to correct past shortcomings and start winning important games.
The two nations square-off in the first of two T-20s at the Harare Sports Club this Sunday before engaging again on Tuesday. After the T-20s they will battle it out in the One Day Internationals (ODIs) starting October 1.
Pakistan brought a strong side as they fine tune for the global showcase that will be staged in India next year.
They have declared that they will not leave anything to chance and will not underrate their less-fancied opponent.
Zimbabwe has been thorough in its preparations and judging from the way they faired in almost all of the four matches during their May tour of Pakistan, they have a good chance against the tourists.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi conceded to the Pakistan media that Zimbabwe posed a threat in the limited overs and thus they would not take them lightly.
“Zimbabwe might not be ranked among the top teams in the world, but they remain a good side in limited-overs matches,” said Afridi. “The two matches we play against them will be an excellent opportunity for my players and team officials and we plan to use them as a launch pad for the T20 World Cup. We won’t take the matches lightly.”
Some of the top players in the Pakistan squad include, Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz Ahmed Shezad and Umar Akmal.
Pakistan will make some alterations to their squad after the T-20 series ahead of the ODI series, but Zimbabwe has named a 16-men squad that will participate in the two versions.
Captain Elton Chigumbura is targeting a good start, hoping that a win would give his charges momentum going into the ODI series.
“It’s a T-20 match, but what we want is a good start and we know if we can win the first match, it will give us momentum going into the ODI series,” said Chigumbura. “We will just try to make use of our conditions to our advantage. We also look back at our last series in Lahore, we came close to winning in most of the matches, and so now that we are playing in conditions that we know better than anyone, we are hoping we can finally cross the line.”
Chigumbura said, since there are not too many T-20 matches lined up ahead of the World T-20, they will use this series as part of their preparations for that tournament.
“I think before we tour Bangladesh, we only have four T-20s lined up; so all of them are important for our preparations.”
Elton Chigumbura (captain), Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Richmond Mutumbami, Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Sikandar Raza, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller and Sean Williams.
Pakistan T-20 squad
Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Mukhtar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Irfan, Bilal Asif, Wahab Riaz, Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Rizwan and Imran Khan Jr.