Thatscricket - News - History favours Pakistan in series against Zimbabwe
Published: Friday, November 8, 2002, 15:58 [IST]
Test Cricket Ratings Service
Pakistan seeks return to winning ways in Zimbabwe
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Historically, Pakistan has been the second or third best Test cricket nation for almost the entire past 18 years. Pakistan enters its two-Test tour of Zimbabwe needing to win the series to avoid slipping back level with fourth placed England.[an error occurred while processing this directive]In May 1984, Pakistan broke through into the top three nations of Test cricket. Pakistan has never reached the summit and claimed first position. However, Pakistan only dropped back out of the top three for the first time in November 1999. Since 1999, Pakistan has spent three brief periods in fourth place for a total of 16 months.For most of the last 18 years, Pakistan has been ranked directly behind the great West Indian teams under Lloyd and Richards and more recently behind the Australians from 1992 under Border, Taylor and Waugh as well as the SouthAfricans under Cronje and Pollock from 1998.However, for most of the last eight years, the Pakistanis have been slowly haemorrhaging ratings points. In December 1994, Pakistan set its national record with a highest rating of 1,132 points. At the time, it was ranked second to the West Indies. From that time onwards, the Pakistani rating has drifted lower and now stands at 1,065 points after its inexperienced youngsters were hammered 3-0 byAustralia in October. Pakistan's lead over fourth placed England now stands at only six points and it is at risk of falling back into fourth place behind England. However, in the short term,Pakistan is more likely to retain third place than slip further downwards. Pakistan's record against Zimbabwe suggests that Pakistan is most likely to gain ratings points in its Test series starting in Harare. Pakistan has played 12 Tests against Zimbabwe and has won six, lost two and drawn four. Pakistan has won four of the five Test series it has played against Zimbabwe while losing one, when in 1998 the final Test was abandoned without a ball bowled due to a cyclone.Pakistan has a 154-rating point lead over Zimbabwe, which is almost as large as Australia's lead over England. For Pakistan to drop below England, history would need to be created in both the series in Zimbabwe and the Ashes in Australia.Pakistan will have a far stronger batting line up for this series with Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana returning to the middle order after both players missed the entire Australian whitewash with injuries. Shoaib Akhtar's thunderbolts, which were missing in their last Test against Australia, should also trouble the Zimbabwe side. Pakistan must win the series in order to increase its lead over England, while if Zimbabwe can hold the tourists to a draw then it will benefit from more ratings points. History, however, does not favour Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has only managed to win one Test against Pakistan on its home pitches and has lost four others with one draw. While Pakistan will have benefited from their series against Australia, Zimbabwe is likely to be rusty as they have not played a Test since March.Zimbabwe's Test record shows that it has only ever won four Test series since beginning its career in 1992. Two of those wins were against Bangladesh in 2001. The other two series victories were both in 1998 against Pakistan (as mentioned above) and Sri Lanka. At the time in 1998, it held a rating of 967 points, a far cry from its current rating of 911 points.Zimbabwe has lost its last five consecutive Tests, three of which was by an innings and another by 315 runs. Over their last 10 Tests, Zimbabwe has won only one with six losses and three draws. Pakistan, by comparison, has won six and lost four of their last 10 Tests.Zimbabwe will be without captain Heath Streak for at least the first Test due to an injury. Streak is the home side's only genuine world-class bowler. Without Streak to lead the attack, Zimbabwe is most likely to spend a very long time on the field chasing the ball.
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