THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 10th SEPTEMBER 2013:
Pakistan are looking forward to claiming a 2-0 victory against Zimbabwe in the ongoing Test series as they go into the second and final match that begins in Harare today.
It will be a crucial series win for Misbahul Haq’s side that lost to Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively after their memorable clean-sweep over England in the UAE in February 2012.
The visitors currently lead the series 1-0 and even a draw will be enough to give them the two-match series. However, the team is aiming for nothing less than outright victory in the final game to finish their Zimbabwe sojourn – dubbed as the launching pad for the tough home series against South Africa – on a high note.
Pakistan finished the 221-run rout over the hosts in the first game comfortably, but not without struggling in the first three days during which the depleted but promising Zimbabwe side made them run for their money.
Younus Khan’s heroics that revolved around an unbeaten double ton and Saeed Ajmal’s inspiring 11-wicket haul were factors that made the win possible.
Pakistan captain Misbah agreed that his players will have to up their game instead of relying on individual performances.
“We struggled, but the team came out with an improved display in the second innings.
“Our performance in the last two days was commendable and we are determined to repeat the same throughout the next match.”
‘Underprepared’ pitch may spring surprises
The lead-up to the match started with a debate on the pitch that was deemed underprepared, as groundsmen had little time due to an abrupt change in venue from Bulawayo to Harare.
Misbah hoped his batsmen will avoid the hardships of the track that is expected to deteriorate quickly as the match progresses.
“The pitch is a big concern for us,” he said. “It’s going to be tricky; we need to be prepared and be professional.”
The Pakistan team trained in Harare yesterday with a team official saying the playing eleven will be selected after final pitch assessment.
Meanwhile, the hosts will be boosted by the return of captain Brendan Taylor who missed the first game due to paternity leave.
Ajmal looks to continue momentum
Ajmal will be targeting another fiery performance with the ball today.
“The performance has boosted my confidence,” the spinner said in an interview.
“I am keen for another good show to help my team win the series. This tour is providing us a chance to prepare for the series against South Africa.”