Pakistan look to bounce back as they take on Zimbabwe in T20I series decider

From our correspondent

HARARE: Following a super performance on South Africa tour by winning two back-to-back trophies Pakistan were on Friday subjected to agony when they failed to chase 119-run target in the second T20I of the three-match series against Zimbabwe here at the Harare Sports Club.

In pursuit of a low total Pakistan were folded for only 99 which enabled Zimbabwe to level the series 1-1. On Sunday (tomorrow) both the sides will be looking for a win to seal the series. Zimbabwe have not won a bilateral series, with their only one-off T20I win coming against the West Indies in 2010.

It would be a real test for Pakistan who had rested their pace duo Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali in their previous two outings. However bowling did not remain Pakistan’s concerns in the previous two games. It was their batting, both the middle and lower order, which remained a headache for the team management during the last few months.

In South Africa too Pakistan clicked due to top order heroics and particularly the brigade won due to stunning knocks either from Babar Azam or Mohammad Rizwan with Fakhar also having a few stunning innings to his favour. It was expected that Mohammad Hafeez would get his form back but he continues to struggle in a time when Misbah-ul-Haq and skipper Babar Azam are making experiments with a handful of youngsters including Danish Aziz, Haider Ali and Asif Ali who have failed to impress. Even Faheem Ashraf has been finding it difficult to time the ball on the Harare Sports Club tracks which are slow and offer support to the bowlers.

With the rest of the batting line-up under an immense pressure Babar and Rizwan will have to provide a solid stand by exploiting their form which is the only way to make the things easier with Fakhar expecting to show some grace in the vital game tomorrow (Sunday).

Babar on Friday said that they would try to stage a strong comeback to win the series. Zimbabwe’s stand-in skipper Brendan Taylor also wants his charges to get full advantage of the powerplay in order to catch the momentum earlier on which will help them in the rest of the innings.

Pakistan had begun the series as hot favourites but Zimbabwe’s terrific effort and Pakistan’s below-par showing in their previous game which they lost by 19 runs has left the series fate wide-open. It is highly likely that Pakistan would reinforce their bowling unit by picking both or one from their experienced pace duo of Afridi and Hasan. Some changes in batting are also expected.