Pakistan’s Test squad might be carrying full confidence from their last series win over South Africa at home but the current situation can be a whole different script for them. Critics are sharpening their blades, after watching Pakistan losing a T20I against minnows Zimbabwe, results are unexpected this time around.
Though Pakistan is comparatively a stronger side than Zimbabwe but still, fears loom over there for the cricket fans and followers in the country. They must be watching this series too closely without overrating their team.
Few things Pakistan must be prepared for:
The biggest problem for Pakistan in shorter formats on this whole tour was the middle-order batting crisis. Neither Mohammad Hafeez filled up his role nor experimental Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, and Asif Ali made an impact.
Now, in Tests, it would be important for Pakistan to make their strength in middle-order batting. They have the likes of Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan in the middle-order with Saud Shakeel lined up to make his Test debut. The youngster would be one of the batters to look out for in this series.
Fawad had a great batting run against South Africa at home, high responsibility would be on his shoulders whereas Rizwan has now become the frontline batter for Pakistan. It looks like the format has changed but Rizwan will probably be the same following his current form. Today, he entered the top 10 rankings of T20I batters.
Apart from Babar, Rizwan
Pakistan team management must be concerned about batters to perform if Babar and Rizwan fail. We saw in the recently concluded shorter format series against Zimbabwe, South Africa that Pakistani batters hide behind the performance of Babar and Rizwan.
They single-handedly won matches, otherwise, no other batter stepped up to make an effort. In the Test series, Pakistan should try to not make too many experiments as far as shuffling batting order is concerned.
Tricky bowling options
Shaheen Shah Afridi would be an automatic choice in Tests but apart from him, who would suit Pakistan in these conditions. Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Tabish Khan, and Shahnawaz Dhani are the other options. It looks like Hasan will also be there with probably a chance of a Test debut for either Haris, Tabish, or Shahnawaz.
It would also be interesting to see if Pakistan goes with Nauman Ali (the performer of the Test series against South Africa) and Zahid Mahmood or will stay with Nauman and Nawaz who will also be a good option as an all-rounder. Sajid Khan is also waiting for his Test debut, he will also be a good option.
Expectations for a one-sided contest
Only a few but there are still expectations that Pakistan will win this series one-sidedly. Zimbabwe has only won three matches against Pakistan out of 17 Tests both the nations have played so far. Pakistan won 10 whereas 4 ended as a draw.
Looking at the face-offs, Pakistan’s chances are strong but upbeat Zimbabwe wouldn’t mind upsetting the Green shirts once again.