Zimbabwe (right) will look to register their first win of the tour © AFP
Zimbabwe (right) will look to register their first win of the tour © AFP

Pakistan and Zimbabwe clash in the third and final One-Day International (ODI) at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday. Pakistan currently lead the series 2-0, having won the second ODI by six wickets. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, will look to register their first win of the tour after losing the two Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) as well.

For the hosts, the series could not have gone any better. Aside from international cricket returning on their soil after more than half a decade, the Pakistanis have managed to remain undefeated in all the matches that they have played against the African side. The batting department has been in supreme form so far, with the skipper Azhar Ali slamming 79 in the first ODI, followed by a match-winning century in the second. Shoaib Malik has been at his destructive best too, smashing a 76-ball 112 in the first ODI, before finishing the game for Pakistan in the crucial second match. Blast near Gaddafi Stadium injures four

Their efforts have been complemented by the likes of Haris Sohail, who has scored fifties in both games, Mohammad Hafeez, and others. With the Gaddafi pitch appearing to be tailor-made for the batsmen and the boundaries appearing to be relatively short, the batsmen are expected to breeze through the final ODI as well, unless the under-performing Zimbabwean bowling attack pulls out a surprise.

Among the bowlers, the likes of Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah have been effective for the hosts, with the duo getting the major breakthroughs. While Mohammad Sami and Anwar Ali have been somewhat expensive so far in the tournament, Hafeez has been providing able support in the form of a backup bowler. With the series already in their kitty, the Pakistanis might want to rest either Sami or Anwar, and get Junaid Khan into the playing XI. Wasim Akram credits PCB for Pakistan vs Zimbabwe series

For the tourists, the script has been consistent so far in the series — the batsmen have delivered, while the bowlers failed to back their performance up to get a victory along their way. Skipper Elton Chigumbura was clinical with a 95-ball 117 in the first game. He was, however, suspended for the rest of the tour due to his team’s slow-over rate, which effectively crippled the visitors in the second encounter. Sikandar Raza was the star of the second game, scoring a century in front of his country folks. He was well-supported by Chamu Chibhabha, who made the most of an opportunity served to him by scoring 99, though he was unfortunately dismissed on that score.

The bowlers have to shape up if they are to end the tour on a high. Though the bowlers were slightly better than the previous game, Tinashe Panyangara and co. must get the crucial breakthroughs in the final match and not let any of Pakistan’s top-order batsmen settle at the crease. Visitors’ bowlers must come to the party


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

(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)