In other times, that kind of loss might have felled other Pakistan sides, but there’s something more settled about this one. They may rue not picking a fourth pacer at the MCG, but Mohammad Nawaz was not far from winning it: a little luck with the deflection off the stumps on the free-hit, a little fortune with that no-ball call, and they’re sitting pretty now. In the dressing room after the game, Babar Azam was not letting heads fall, telling Nawaz he was still his match-winner. Imperfect they may be, but they’re more together than most Pakistan sides of modern vintage.
Pakistan have plenty of that.
Pakistan LWWLW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
There was plenty of talk around Pakistan not playing a fourth seamer at the MCG, though with the definite benefit of hindsight on a surface that did plenty for fast bowlers. They could bring somebody like Mohammad Wasim in and drop one of the perennially under-fire Haider Ali or Asif Ali (especially as Wasim has six-hitting skills) from a deep batting order. But they don’t like changing unless they really have to, and it may not be that stage yet.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Shan Masood, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Haider Ali, 6 Shadab Khan, 7 Asif Ali, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Haris Rauf, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Naseem Shah
Richard Ngarava’s slip in the rain against South Africa and subsequent ankle injury means Zimbabwe may be forced to disrupt their pace attack. Brad Evans – whom captain Ervine said would likely play if Ngarava is not fit – is not a like-for-like replacement, but he does bring genuine pace.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Craig Ervine (capt), 2 Regis Chakabva (wk), 3 Sean Williams, 4 Sikandar Raza, 5 Wessly Madhevere, 6 Milton Shumba, 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Richard Ngarva/Brad Evans, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Blessing Muzarabani
The forecast in Perth is for partly cloudy conditions but no rain. The pitch has a green tinge and the new ball has swung. While there’s pace and bounce for the fast bowlers, runs can also be scored quickly, especially straight. Spinners often suffer if they bowl too full, but can tie it up in the middle overs by bowling a back of a length and forcing batters to hit to the vast square boundaries with the ground similar to the dimensions of the MCG.
“The morale of the boys is high. We are trying to prepare for the next game and come back strong and remain in contention for this World Cup.”
Pakistan allrounder Ifitkhar Ahmed
“I’m pretty sure Pakistan will be coming hard for us. The first five-six overs with the new ball has been challenging for every team. It’s a key area to get through.”
Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine