The Zimbabwean bowlers have been a bit of a let-down so far © AFP
The Zimbabwean bowlers have been a bit of a let-down so far © AFP

Zimbabwe have been fighting hard in every game that they have played in their tour of Pakistan so far. However, it is the batsmen who have shown the fighting spirit on most occasions, with the bowling unit yet to prove themselves. Amit Banerjee feels that the bowlers have to sharpen themselves for their team to get an elusive win.

Zimbabwe have been a brave unit in their tour of Pakistan so far. Not only are they touring a country which has been in the headlines of late for its political turmoil and religious extremism, but they have been good in terms of their performances in the two-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series and the first One-Day International (ODI).

In the two T20Is, Zimbabwe went past the 170-run mark, with the likes of Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, and skipper Elton Chigumbura propelling their side with valuable knocks at the top of the batting order. Despite putting up the competitive totals, their bowling attack was beaten first by Mukhtar Ahmed and Ahmed Shehzad, and later by the likes of Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, and Azhar Ali.

The two Ahmeds — Mukhtar and Shehzad — stole the momentum away from the visitors in the first game with a 142-run opening stand, with a flurry of dismissals not causing enough damage to stop the hosts from winning their first game played on home soil in six years. In the second game however, the likes of Brian Vitori, Prosper Utseya, Sikandar Raza and Williams had put the Pakistanis in a spot with a score of 130 for five in the 15th over, chasing a stiff 176-run target. Yet the Zimbabweans let Umar Akmal and the rest of the lower-order slip away with the game.

In the first ODI, the Pakistani batsmen were simply too destructive for the Zimbabweans to handle. With Malik smashing a 76-ball 112, and three other batsmen smashing half-centuries, Pakistan finished at a mammoth score of 375 for three after 50 overs. Barring Utseya (10-0-63-2), every bowler went at over seven runs per over, with little success.

Despite the brilliant performance that Zimbabwe put up later with the bat, with Chigumbura smashing 117 off 95 deliveries and Masakadza putting up a run-a-ball 73, the pressure of the 376-run target was always going to get the better of the relatively-inexperienced Zimbabwean side. Credit has to be given to Chigumbura for his bravery in the match though, taking the likes of Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami, and Yasir Shah to the cleaners during his innings as the tourists finished on 334 for five after 50 overs, their highest ODI total against a Test-playing side.

To summarise, the bowlers have to step up their game if they are to keep their fans’ hopes of winning the ODI series alive, the possibility of which is quite high given the performance of the two teams so far. While the batsmen have been doing their job, they can after all do little if the other departments are not doing their duty. Pakistan is a team that is known for imploding with a couple of quick dismissals; something that Tinashe Panyangara and co. must make the most of.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)