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Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 2011 ICC World Cup Live Today

Posted by on Monday, March 14, 2011, 12:18
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Pakistan’s fear of experimenting and a “lack of options” looks set to save Kamran Akmal from the much-anticipated axe for the team’s vital clash against Zimbabwe today.

Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 2011
Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 2011

A finger injury to younger brother Umar, who took part in Pakistan’s early training yesterday before hobbling off with a minor ankle problem, ruled out him replacing Kamran behind the stumps as the older Akmal fends off calls for his omission yet again.

Quarter-finals beckon

A win for Pakistan will seal them a quarter-final berth – and a possibility of a last-eight clash against India – but rain, and the team’s batting failure in the last two matches, ensure plenty of hiccups en route the much-needed win against the minnows battling consistency themselves. The focus, however, will be on the team-sheet that is prepared prior to the toss with captain Shahid Afridi confirming a “full-strength” side to take the field.

“Kamran’s batting has been ok but his wicket-keeping does remain a concern,” said Afridi on the eve of the team’s second match at Pallekele Stadium. “However, we don’t have any other options so he remains our best choice. He’s training hard and we’re giving him the support he needs.”

Opening woes

Pakistan’s problems exist in front of the stumps as well, especially at the start of the innings. A reshuffled batting order sees Afridi, Umar and Abdul Razzaq entering the fray with either not many overs remaining or with the team in dire straits, needing a miracle to take maximum points. Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez have been unable to provide starts as Afridi voiced his concerns at the strategy the rest of the batsmen have adopted.

“Some players think we should take it easy in the first 15 overs and don’t lose wickets but I told them to play their natural game. Play to your strength is what I tell them and I’m hopeful we’ll see a change against Zimbabwe in our approach.

“We need to open our batting like we do our bowling. We need good starts.”

Consistency key for both sides

Pakistan will have to be wary of a resurgent Zimbabwe, especially their opener Brendan Taylor who provided brief thrills in his 72-ball 80 against Sri Lanka earlier this week. However, on a level playing-field with Pakistan when it comes to consistency, Zimbabwe will look to surprise their opponents who they have only beaten twice in 40 meetings.

Afridi, keen to avoid an early exit for the third edition running, backed his under-performing batsmen to click, giving the team the momentum it needs going into the match against the defending champions on Saturday.

“We’re not taking anyone lightly. Upsets have taken place in the past as every team comes prepared to give it their best in a World Cup. We’re taking every match as our last match and going in to win.”

Rain may ruin plans

With preparations ongoing on the field by both teams for a show of strength, there exists a 30 per cent chance of rain in Pallekele today which may disrupt Pakistan’s plans of not only taking two points but also bolstering their run-rate.

Dark clouds hung over the stadium during training yesterday and much of the same has been predicted for today, a predicament that may force Afridi to bowl first in search of early breakthroughs.

Taibu advises Kamran

Zimbabwe wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu has advised Kamran Akmal to move on from his past mistakes and focus on his job. Kamran has come under a scathing attack after his blunders in the match against New Zealand were singled out as the reason for the 110-run loss. The Pakistan team management were considering “other options”  for the match against Zimbabwe.

But Taibu, who has played 134 One-Day Internationals and 24 Tests said, “All he needs to do is forget whatever happened and move on. That’s the only way out of it.”

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