The second ODI saw the skipper Azhar Ali score a crafty century and with the help of a late 50 by Haris Sohail, Pakistan made sure that they will greet the home coming of international cricket with a trophy as they took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series against Zimbabwe.
Though Zimbabwe have not been the toughest of the opponents, Pakistan winning this series after a dismal performance in Bangladesh shows how much they missed their home stadiums and they would want to wind up a memorable series with a victory in the third ODI.
The third ODI between the two teams is set to be played on Sunday the 1st of June. The venue is the same stadium used in the previous matches at the Gaddafi in Lahore. The match will be a day night match and will start at 4:00 pm local time (11 am GMT).
The weather for the match is predicted to be at the same high temperatures as it has been but thunderstorms are expected which may give some relief to the place burning at 41 degrees Celsius.
The biggest trouble for Zimbabwe has been the lack of intent in the batting line up. Though some players have been able to knit through good knocks, the team as a whole, have not been able to make an impact on the match. This was evident in the 2nd match when Raza with a century and Chibhabha with an unlucky 99 could not post enough to trouble the Pakistan line up.
The lack of partnerships that has hurt the team from Zimbabwe has been one of the positives of this Pakistan team. The targets in the T20s and the 2nd ODI have not been a pushover and needed some disciplined batting and Pakistan have shown that they are not as brittle as many think.
With the series already decided, Pakistan may try a few young players and see how they perform on the international stage and for Zimbabwe it would be the time to keep their head down and give their best before they go into the Test match.
Azhar Ali (Captain) , Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Sarfraz Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Sami, Haris Sohail, Yasir Shah, Asad Shafiq.
Pakistan thought with the series sealed may give some new players a chance.
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H Masakadza (Captain), Sikandar Raza, CJ Chibhabha, CK Coventry , CB Mpofu, R Mutumbami, T Panyangara, V Sibanda, , BV Vitori, SC Williams, AG Cremer.
With Chigumbura still suspended for slow over rate, Masakadza will lead the side and Zimbabwe will try to give their best shot for its first victory on the tour.
Though Zimbabwe have shown that they are a team that can fight till the end and have shown glimpses of the potential that they posses but Pakistan who are high on confidence and are fuelled with the support of the home crowd will want to finish the series on a high.
With the pitch used for two matches already, it may provide some assistance to the spinners and that will make it even tougher for the Zimbabwe batsmen who are not so good at playing spin bowling. So Pakistan looks sure to run away with a 3-0 series victory.
Zimbabwe who have shown plenty of promise still have a long way to go before challenging top side in the limited format. With a test match still to be played, Zimbabwe would fancy their chances to give the host their first defeat on the tour.
However Pakistan will be happy with a victory in the final game and would love to build on the confidence and home advantage and take it into the test series and give the fans a ‘white wash’ series to remember.