Pakistan vs Zimbabwe series concluded on tuesday with the visitors finally getting a moment of joy on the tour, as they beat the hosts Pakistan in a nail biting contest which went right into the super over to win their first ever International match in Pakistan since 1998. However, it was Pakistan who came as the victorious in the series but Zimbabwe grabbed those 10 important points in ICC Odi super league at the end. But as the series is done and dusted now, we will try to look into 5 positives for Pakistan team in the series.
Pakistan became 3rd country to host International cricket :
Pakistan became just the third country to host international cricket after England and Australia. Since the covid-19 outbreak, like many sports, cricket activities were also disturbed for more than 4 months but England became first country to again start the international cricketing activities when they hosted West Indies and Pakistan during their summer in July-Aug. Australia became the 2nd country to host international cricket when Australia women team played New Zealand women in Sep-Oct. Now Pakistan became the third country to host international cricket after corona outbreak. This is huge considering how countries like India, New Zealand were yet unsure about hosting International cricket back home. This just doesn’t stop there, as Pakistan is ready to host remaining HBL PSL 5 playoff matches in Karachi, South Africa and England in the January, 2021. Things seems to be in right flow for Pakistan cricket at the moment.
Also Rawalpindi cricket stadium became the third venue after Gaddafi Stadium Lahore and National Stadium Karachi to host an Odi match after the resumption of cricket in the country. Rawalpindi cricket stadium last hosted an Odi match in 2006, which was played between Pakistan and India. Rawalpindi cricket stadium hosted its first Odi match after 14 years and in the T20i series, it will become only the second venue after National stadium Karachi to host all three formats since the resumption of International cricket back in Pakistan.
Babar Azam further stamped his authority :
The series saw the best of Babar Azam yet again, he made scores of 19, 77* & 125 as he managed 221 runs in the series with an astonishing average of 110.5 and at a brilliant Strike rate of 101. Babar Azam also scored his 12th Odi Century in the series making him 3rd on the list of most centuries for Pakistan in Odi cricket just behind Saeed Anwar (20) & Mohammad Yousuf (15). He also bagged Man-of-the-series for his incredible form with the bat. Babar Azam also became the 2nd fastest Odi batsman to 12 One-day Internationals centuries just behind South African wicket keeper batsman Quinton De Kock who did it in 74 innings. Babar achieved the feat in his 75th Odi innings.
Having a stellar series with the bat means Babar increased his chances to reach the top of the table in Odi cricket. Babar Azam achieved 8 more points to take his Odi batsmen ratings to 837 just behind Virat Kohli (871) and Rohit Sharma (855). Despite the captaincy responsibilities, Babar Azam showed that he’s one of the best across format batsmen in the world right now. He also won his first ever assignment as an Odi skipper by 2-1 which will enhance his skills as a captain.
Young Fast bowling battery of Pakistan :
Pakistan is called the land of fast bowlers and there ain’t a lie in it. During the series, Pakistan gave number of opportunities to their young fast bowlers and they didn’t disappoint the captain and selectors. Shaheen Shah Afridi picked a 5-49 in the first One-day International to pull things back for Pakistan and help Pakistan beat Zimbabwe in the 1st odi match. Second Odi match saw Haris Rauf bowling some great deliveries at Zimbabwean batsmen with his figures of 7-0-31-1 in the match. On debut, Musa Khan also impressed everyone with his pace and bounce which maintain an uncertainty in the batsmen’s mind. Musa Khan also picked the bowling figures of 6.1-1-21-2 in the match.
Third One-Day International was all about Mohammad Hasnain showcasing his talent and bowling some thunderbolts at the Zimbabwean Batsmen. Hasnain produced number of unplayable deliveries throughout his spell of 10-3-26-5. Hasnain proved his worth in the team with the second best ever figures on Rawalpindi cricket stadium in Odi cricket. With Naseem Shah in test cricket, Shaheen Shah Afridi in all formats and other three in limited overs cricket having all the attributes to become great fast bowlers, Pakistan’s fast bowling future seems to be in the safe hands.
Domestic Performers getting their turn :
There was a time when we could say Pakistan doesn’t value its domestic cricket and no matter how many records you make there, wont be helpful for you to get your National team call-up. But those times are gone, as Pakistan’s new chief selector Misbah-Ul-Haq and rest of the selection committee are now giving rewards to the domestic performers as well. Attock born 20 years Old Haider Ali got his debut for Pakistan One International side in the 2nd Odi in Rawalpindi cricket stadium. Haider pretty much impressed everyone with his sheer class and amazing footwork, although he couldn’t make a big score and only managed the scores of 29 & 12 in the series. But Haider Ali is surely in the future plans of Misbah & co going forward.
Pakistan also gave domestic cricket’s top performer Khushdil Shah, a 25 years old hard hitting batsman from Bannu, KPK a chance to unleash his true talent with the bat. Khushdil Shah made a rather patient 48 balls 33 in a crucial 6th wicket partnership of 64 with his captain, Babar Azam. Khushdil Shah is believed to have a huge firepower in his batting, he seems to be the answer to Pakistan’s finding of a finisher at No 6 or 7 in Limited overs formats. He surely will be under consideration for the future series of Pakistan. Players like Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar and Abdullah Shafiq are also in the squad and they may also get their due turn in the T20I series against Zimbabwe.
Wahab Riaz Proving His Metal Once Again :
Wahab Riaz once again showed how important he’s to Pakistan white ball team through his fighting performance with the ball and bat in the series. Wahab Riaz is one of those players, who would fight till the last for the glory of their country without taking much of the credit. Wahab Riaz after making a come back in last years Cricket world 2019 has proven himself whenever he got the opportunity to do so. Whether bowling some great spells with the ball or playing few cameos in the hour of need, Wahab doesn’t disappoint his fans. This series was no different as Wahab Riaz performed extremely well with the ball and bat in his two outings.
In the first Odi, Wahab Riaz bowled an incredible death bowling spell to give Pakistan victory. Wahab picked 41-4 in his 9.4 overs to bowl Zimbabwe out on 255 in the 49.4 overs. Wahab after being rested in 2nd odi, came back strongly in the 3rd odi, this time with the bat in hand. Wahab Riaz played a fabulous knock of 52 off 56 balls including 3 4s and 3 6s and also stitched a 100 runs partnership with captain Babar Azam. Wahab Riaz collectively picked 5 Wickets at an Average of 21.2 and made 60 runs at an average of 30 in his 2 appearances in the series. Pakistan fans would hope to see Wahab Riaz keep playing the role of the perfect senior player in team for the rest of his career. With T20i series starting on Saturday, 7 Nov 2020. We wish best of luck to Wahab and the rest of Pakistan cricket team to do well and make us feel proud!