Complacency a challenge as Pakistan target series sweep

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Old 31-May-2015
Post Complacency a challenge as Pakistan target series sweep

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With the ODI series already sealed in favour of Pakistan, the third and final game of Zimbabwe's tour is a dead rubber. It is, however, a dead rubber Pakistan cannot afford to lose. They need to sweep the series to keep their 2017 Champions Trophy qualification chances alive. A 2-1 scoreline will only widen the gap between Pakistan - currently ranked No. 9 in the ICC rankings - and the teams above them.

Zimbabwe, who opted to play the third ODI after a suicide attack occurred in the vicinity of Gaddafi stadium during the second match, are yet to win a game on this tour. They have already been deprived of their in-form captain Elton Chigumbura, who was handed a two-match ban for a slow over-rate in the first ODI. Zimbabwe's batsmen have done well to dent Pakistan at various stages in the series but their bowling and fielding have let the home side get away with wins.

The explosion close to Gaddafi stadium had put the third ODI in doubt but Zimbabwe have decided to play after assurances from the PCB and security officials in Lahore.

Form guide
Pakistan WWLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Zimbabwe LLLLL

In the spotlight
Mohammad Sami might have taken four wickets in two matches but has also been one of the most expensive bowlers in the series. He has had consistent backing on his return but has failed to capitalise with performances. Sami's returns in the final ODI could decide the duration of his comeback stint with the team.

Sikandar Raza, the Pakistan-born Zimbabwe batsman, scored his second one-day century batting for the first time at No. 5 in ODIs. "It's a very special hundred and it couldn't have come at a sweeter time only because, like I said, that I was questioning a lot of things in my head and I wanted to prove, not to anyone but to myself, that a lot of people have put their faith (in me) and I deserve that," he said. Zimbabwe will look to rally themselves around Raza and Chamu Chibhabha's form as they look for a win.

Team news
Anwar Ali and Mohammad Sami have been expensive but the team management, and captain Azhar Ali, have stated that both bowlers will be given maximum opportunities. However, one of them could make way for Junaid Khan, who is also in the squad.

Pakistan: (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Azhar Ali (capt), 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Haris Sohail, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Anwar Ali/Junaid Khan, 8 Junaid Khan, 9 Mohammad Sami, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Yasir Shah

With Chigumbura suspended and Craig Ervine injured, Zimbabwe have limited options in terms of substitutes. They have tried all the players in the squad, except uncapped Roy Kaia. Prosper Utseya missed the second ODI due to an illness and his return will depend on his fitness before the game.

Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2, Chamu Chibhabha, 3 Sikandar Raza, 4 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 5 Charles Coventry, 6 Sean Williams, 7 Richmond Mutumbami (wk) 8 Graeme Cremer/Chris Mpofu 9 Tinashe Panyangara, 10 Tawanda Mupariwa 11. Brian Vitori

Pitch and conditions
Fewer runs were scored in the second ODI, compared to the first, but the pitch remained a paradise for batsmen. Conditions will remain dry and hot and the temperature may fluctuate as the game progresses.

Stats and trivia
The last time Pakistan swept a bilateral series with three or more games was against Bangladesh in December 2011. They won 3-0.
A Zimbabwe batsman has scored a hundred in each of the side's last four ODI games. Brendan Taylor struck successive centuries during the World Cup, followed by Elton Chigumbura and Raza's centuries in this series.
Azhar Ali averages 78 after five ODIs as captain. His scores in these matches are 72, 36, 101, 79, 102.

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