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Match Preview – Pakistan vs Zimbabwe, Pakistan tour of Zimbabwe 2021, 2nd Test

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Test cricket is perhaps the format where Pakistan’s progress is most discernible. There is a stability about the side which is lacking in the other formats, with the results beginning to show something of an uptick of late. Performances against Zimbabwe may not appease the critics but remain vital, because an upset would undo much of the good work of recent times, something that should be front and centre across the visitors’ minds especially after the last time Pakistan played a series in Zimbabwe.

Having won the first match convincingly, they succumbed to a chastening 24-run loss in the second in 2013. They will need to ensure this series doesn’t follow a similar pattern, especially after a disappointing T20I leg, where they scraped to two victories sandwiched by an embarrassing defeat in which they were skittled out for 99.

Zimbabwe are severely handicapped this time around by the loss of several experienced middle order hands due to various reasons, with Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza all ruled out. The batters did put up some resistance in the first Test, albeit not nearly enough. Roy Kaia and Milton Shumba had a spirited 59-run fifth-wicket stand after Zimbabwe found themselves in trouble early, and a useful opening stand between Kevin Kasuza and Tarisai Musakanda saw off the new ball in the second innings. The bowlers took wickets at regular intervals to prevent Pakistan getting away too far.

Pakistan carry a big bench and are in a position to hand out another debut after Sajid Khan played his first match in the previous Test, with Tabish Khan the likely beneficiary. That will see Faheem Ashraf sit out, depriving the side of a player who offered the best chance of a balance between batters and bowlers, especially with his runs lower down the order. But every performance here will matter for future Test series; Pakistan’s next engagement is in the West Indies in August, and individual performances here will go a long way towards selection then. Both openers – Imran Butt and Abid Ali – were on shaky ground, but runs in the opening Test look to have bought them some time.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, cannot afford the luxury of looking ahead too far, but they do have a calendar that sees activity beyond this second Test. Bangladesh will be arriving for a full series shortly, and any momentum gleaned here will be useful if carried through to that series. For that, they will have to summon the spirit and quality from the T20Is, and put the first Test behind them.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches, most recent first)

Pakistan WWWLL
Zimbabwe LLWLD

In the spotlight

Blessing Muzarabani continues to look the home side’s most potent strike bowler, backing up his credentials with a respectable performance in an otherwise disappointing show for his side. It was his wickets towards the end of the second day and on the morning of the third that guaranteed Pakistan would be bowled out instead of having the luxury of declaring, even finding himself on a hat-trick at one point. His figures of 4 for 73 represent a continuing ascent in the lanky fast bowler’s career, but what his side will need are strikes with the new ball as well as the old one. Should he be able to put two openers still struggling for form under pressure, Zimbabwe might have a chance of making a contest out of this.

Babar Azam missed out against what at times appeared to be a Zimbabwe attack bereft of ideas, registering the only golden duck of his Test career in the first game. With the Pakistan captain in the form of his life, lightning is unlikely to strike twice this series. The first Test was an aberration in that respect, and the home side may find they have one additional problem to worry about in the second game.

Team news

Prince Masvaure is unlikely to feature following the hand injury he sustained in the first Test, while Sean Williams and Craig Ervine remain ruled out. Wesley Madhevere looks set to play after missing out in the first Test.

Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Roy Kaia, 2 Kevin Kasuza, 3 Brendan Taylor (capt), 4 Tarisai Musakanda, 5Wesley Madhevere, 6 Regis Chakabva (wk), 7 Luke Jongwe, 8 Wellington Masakadza, 9 Donald Tiripano, 10 Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Victor Nyauchi

No significant changes are expected for Pakistan, with Sajid likely to play despite an indifferent debut. Tabish appears to be in the mix, and should he play, Ashraf would be the man to sit out.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Imran Butt, 2 Abid Ali, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Fawad Alam, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Hasan Ali, 8 Tabish Khan, 9 Sajid Khan, 10 Nauman Ali, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

Pitch and conditions

The weather for the next seven days will be cool with plenty of sunshine. The surface in the first Test played slow, and this one is expected to be no different.

Stats that matter

  • Fawad Alam has converted each of his first four half centuries into triple figures, one of only six players in Tests to have done so.
  • Zimbabwe have only three players with more than ten Test matches under their belt: Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva and Donald Tiripano.
  • Azam is the first Pakistan captain to lead his side to victory in his first three Tests.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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Bangladesh unhappy as Australia’s Covid-19 demands force Mushfiqur Rahim to miss home T20Is

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According to the terms agreed to between the two boards, the senior batter can’t enter the Dhaka bio-bubble now

Bangladesh are unhappy with Mushfiqur Rahim‘s enforced absence from the Bangladesh squad for the upcoming T20Is at home against Australia, a direct result of the Covid-19 protocols demanded by Cricket Australia. The word “unfair” is floating around in some private conversations among players and BCB officials, and the general feeling is that CA has asked for too much, and the BCB has gone a bit too far in accepting the demands.
The two boards had agreed to include their respective bio-bubbles in Zimbabwe and the West Indies as part of the mandatory pre-series ten-day quarantine in Dhaka. But Rahim had to leave Harare for home after both his parents contracted Covid-19. As a result, he can’t be in the Dhaka bio-bubble now. What has upset the Bangladesh team even more is that while Rahim has not been allowed to re-enter the bubble, the players who have returned from Zimbabwe have had to do so after going through four airports – Harare, Johannesburg, Doha and Dhaka – with potentially greater exposure to the virus, but there have been no objections there.

“It is unfair what happened with Mushfiq,” a member of Bangladesh’s tour party to Zimbabwe, told ESPNcricinfo. “We came in a commercial flight passing through three airports so I don’t know if it makes much sense to keep Mushfiq out of the series. He went back home from the middle of a tour for a family problem. So to not allow him to enter the quarantine after just two or three days, is not right.”



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SL vs IND, 2nd T20I, 2021

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He trusted his lower-order team-mates to play big shots if he took the game deep

Bat long and take the game deep. These were the things Dhananjaya de Silva was telling himself during his match-winning 40 not out off 34 balls on Wednesday when he helped deliver Sri Lanka’s first T20I victory in six matches.

Not known for his hitting capability, the match situation was perhaps made for de Silva, who struck only two boundaries – a six and a four – and focused instead on running singles and twos. With a severely depleted India making only 132, Sri Lanka did not require huge fireworks with the bat to chase it down.

“This is what I’m meant to do for the team,” de Silva said after the match. “In the previous match as well, what I’d been told was to bat 20 overs from one side. I wasn’t able to do that in the previous game. Today was my day and I did that. If I can bat at a run-a-ball until the final overs, letting others attack around me, I can raise my strike rate towards the finish as well. That was the coach, captain and selectors’ plan.”



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The Hundred – Jofra Archer not expected to link up with Southern Brave this week

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Team hopeful of having the pacer for the last four games as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery

Southern Brave are not expecting to have Jofra Archer available for either of their next two men’s Hundred fixtures as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery.

Archer has played twice for Sussex in the last 10 days, first bowling three overs in their Vitality Blast win against Kent and a further six against Oxfordshire in a 50-over warm-up match last Tuesday, but has not linked up with the Southern Brave squad since the start of the Hundred and is not expected to do so this week.

“We’re hearing stuff from the medical teams at the ECB and Sussex,” James Vince, the Brave’s men’s captain, said after Tuesday’s defeat to Welsh Fire. “I think he’s maybe undergoing a jab or something yesterday or today, and then hopefully we might get him for the last four [games] or something.

“It’s one of those where I’m staying out of it and leaving it to the experts in that area. Hopefully we do get him because it would be a big boost for us, but if we don’t, we’ve got guys who are capable here.”



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