Pakistan lost their last ODI series a Bangladesh © AFP
Pakistan lost their last ODI series against Bangladesh © AFP

After the two-match T20 International (T20I) series, the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore will be hosting the first One-Day International (ODI) series between Pakistan and Zimbabwe on Tuesday. Though Pakistan won the T20I series 2-0, but Zimbabwe were very competitive as both matches finished in the last over. Pakistan will start as favourites in the one-dayers, but the visitors have the potential to upset them. READ: Congratulations, Pakistan! Hope the Zimbabwe series is start of a new chapter in your cricket history

For Pakistan, the importance of this three-match ODI series is huge. After their recent 0-3 humiliation against Bangladesh, Pakistan’s ODI rankings took a blow. Currently Azhar Ali’s team is ranked No. 9 in ICC rankings for ODIs, which means their participation in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is under serious threat. To secure their place in the 2017 tournament in England, Pakistan have to remain in the top eight  of the ICC ODI rankings on September 30 of this year. So any defeat against Zimbabwe in one of the ODIs will not help their cause at all. READ: Pakistan may have to maintain war-footing for future tournaments

Pakistan have recalled former captain Shoaib Malik and paceman Mohammad Sami in the 16-men one-day squad for this series. Malik’s inclusion will surely boost the Pakistan batting, which was struggled to put up any fight against the Bangladeshi bowlers in their last series. In the bowling department, Sami’s experience will be handy for the hosts, especially while bowling in death overs. READ: International cricket resumes in Pakistan: A plea to fans

Apart from Malik, opener Ahmed Shahzad will also make a comeback while the selectors also decided to test out uncapped Immad Wasim, batsman Babar Azam and recalled all-rounders, Hammad Azam and Anwar Ali. There was no place for hard-hitting opener Mukhtar Ahmed, who scored 87 and 65 in the T20 matches against the Zimbabweans and won back to back-to-back Man of the Match awards and Man of the Series awards. Selectors also dropped Fawad Alam, all-rounder Saad Nasim, young opener Sami Aslam and spinner Zulfiqar Babar from the ODI team. READ: PCB should convince India to play in Pakistan says Shaan Shahid

For  Zimbabwe, the batting has shaped up really well for them on this tour. Especially, players like Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Sean Williams have done really well in the T20Is. Their main problem is the bowling. Zimbabwe failed to defend 170 plus scores twice in the T20 series. So in the ODIs they would look to chase the runs down. READ: How much the cricket world has changed since 2009

It is a historic tour. The T20s were very competitive and matched up the hypes and now the ODIs are expected to be evenly contested.

Squads:

Pakistan: Azhar Ali (c), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Sami, Junaid Khan, Asad Shafiq, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam, Babar Azam

Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (c), Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Charles Coventry (wk), Tinashe Panyangara, Chris Mpofu, Brian Vitori, Tawanda Mupariwa, Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Roy Kaia, Richmond Mutumbami, Prosper Utseya

Time:  16:30 IST | 11:00 GMT | 16:00 Local

(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)