Pakistan win toss, elect to bat first against Zimbabwe in first one-dayer
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ODI captain Babar Azam won the toss and decided to bat first in the first ODI of the three-match series against Zimbabwe. The opening match at the Pindi stadium is Babar Azam’s first as Pakistan’s ODI captain. It is also the first international match to be played in the country without spectators.
A dominant Pakistan thumped Zimbabwe 5-0 in 2018, winning every match fair and square. Things, however, have changed since then. The inclusion of some senior players such as Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine has given some impetus to the touring side.
“Our biggest problem is we often fall short of the finish line. The same happened when we just missed qualifying for the last World Cup. Overcoming these shortcomings are part of our plan,” Zimbabwe captain Chamu Chibhabha said while talking to media persons on the eve of the first ODI. “We want our players to play a winning role rather than just hitting fifty and sixty and ending up on the losing side. Our main players need to guide the team.”
Chibhabha said Zimbabwe players had worked on their flaws and hoped that they would be able to execute their plans in the series. “The boys are excited to take on Pakistan and give their best. We are capable of winning and going all the way, especially in presence of some experienced players. We will look to put Pakistan bowlers under pressure. We aim to put 300 plus on the board which will provide a good opportunity to our bowlers to have a go at the Pakistan batting,” he said.
Babar Azam hinted at using the series to try out the team’s bench strength. “We have selected a talented bunch of players including Khushdil Shah, Zafar Gohar, Usman Qadir and Haris Rauf. We have some tough assignments ahead so it is a good option to try out backup players in the home series,” he said.
Pakistan handed an ODI debut to 26-year-old fast bowler Haris Rauf, who played five Twenty20 internationals last year.
It's been 13 months since Pakistan last played an ODI, and while that's the sort of drought one might associate with their opponents, Zimbabwe, Chamu Chibhabha's men did complete a three-match series against Bangladesh before cricket was shut down in March.
Pakistan's Aleem Dar is standing in his 209th one-day international, equalling the record for most ODIs as umpire held by South African Rudi Koertzen since 2010.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Wahab Riaz
Zimbabwe: Chamu Chibhabha (capt), Brian Chari, Carl Mumba, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Wessley Madhevere, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Ahsan Raza (PAK)
TV umpire: Asif Yaqoob (PAK)
Match referee: Mohammad Javed (PAK)