HARARE: Pakistan are brimming with confidence on the back of their recent 3-1 series victory over South Africa in their own den albeit against a rather under-strength side as they now prepare to face Zimbabwe in the first of three Twenty20 Internationals in Harare on Wednesday.
The Pakistan tour of Zimbabwe is a return gift of sorts for when Zimbabwe toured Pakistan in October-November 2020 for one-day and T20 series with the hosts winning five of the six limited-overs games while Zimbabwe pulled back the third ODI via a thrilling super over.
Pakistan side has finally begun to look a lot more settled as they continue their lead up for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in India. Their top scorer in the recent T20s in South Africa was Babar Azam, who also struck his maiden century in the format. The Pakistan captain scored 210 runs from four matches at an average of 52.50 and a strike rate of 143.84.
Mohammad Rizwan, despite missing out on a couple of occasions, scored 147 runs in series at 73.50 and a strike rate of 147, while Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez also played one useful knock each.
Among the bowlers, Hasan Ali was the most effective with seven wickets Mohammad Nawaz came good for the side with the bat in the last match and had a big impact with the ball throughout the series, picking up five wickets. Faheem Ashraf and Shaheen Shah Afridi also picked up wickets.
But Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the Zimbabwe T20 series due to injury. Zahid Mahmood has been added to the squad in his place. However, in the presence of Mohammad Nawaz and Usman Qadir, the wrist spinner is unlikely to get a spot in the playing XI.
Fakhar, after coming to form after a long time in South Africa, has also been added to the squad for the Zimbabwe tour.
The home team welcomes back key players Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine, who were unavailable in their last series against Afghanistan.
The hosts, however, are without Sikandar Raza who is nursing an injury and regular captain Chamu Chibhabha who is yet to recover from a thigh injury.
The last time Zimbabwe took the field was in the third and last T20 of a series against Afghanistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, which they lost by 47 runs.
Zimbabwe have Brendan Taylor, Tarisai Musakanda and Craig Ervine in the top order with captain Sean Williams and Regis Chakabva in the middle order. Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava are expected to be their leading wicket-takers.
ZIMBABWE: Sean Williams (captain), Brendan Taylor, Tarisai Musakanda, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Regis Chakabva, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Ryan Burl, Wesley Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava.
PAKISTAN: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Wasim.