Zimbabwe Vs Pakistan
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Pallekele, March 14: Pakistan might still be smarting from the trouncing they received at the hands of the Kiwis on Tuesday as Ross Taylor and Co ensured that Pakistan's berth in the quarter-finals would have to wait. But now the Pakistanis would have a smile on the face knowing that they are up against a perceptibly inferior side in Zimbabwe. They will undoubtedly be gasping a sigh of relief to know they have tackled these opponents with ease in the past and look on course to doing the same in Monday, March 14th's World Cup match against them.
The last time these two sides met in a one-day series was in Pakistan, in Jan-Feb 2008, when the home side subjected the Zimbabweans to a 5-nil drubbing. Surprisingly in that engagement, it was Zimbabwe's Sean Williams, who emerged the most successful of the still existing players from both sides in terms of the number of runs scored.
Williams aggregated 192 at an average of 48.00 and an acceptable strike rate of 72.18. Younis Khan came in after him with a run-tally of 187 and an average of 46.75, but with a far superior strike rate of 116.87. The bowling in that series was dominated by Pakistan leg-spinner Shahid Afridi and the slow-left-armer from Zimbabwe Ray Price, although there was nothing extraordinary about their respective performances.
In the World Cup 2011 so far, Williams is placed at number 4 in the Zimbabwe's run-getter's chart, a list led by Brendon Taylor with a merely passable average of 35.00. However, Taylor is coming off a sizzling 80 off 72 balls against Sri Lanka, which gave the home side something to sweat about in the initial stages of the Zimbabwean innings. So, this opener might just be the man to watch out for in Monday's game.
The other batsmen in the Zimbabwean side that have had partial success are Graeme Cremer (avg: 33.00), Tatenda Taibu (avg: 29.25)and Craig Ervine (avg: 28.25), but they have mainly performed well in the one match which Zimbabwean won in the ongoing tournament, and that was against Canada!
Their bowlers also don't have the kind of figures worth writing home about. Paceman Chris Mpofu is perhaps the pick of them with 6 wickets from 3 matches at an average of 22.00. But he had been horrendously expensive as well. Ray Price was looking to make a dent for his World Cup side, but currently bears an average of 32.00, thus slightly on the high side with 5 wickets to his credit.
Though Pakistan is facing severe problems at the top of their batting order, their middle order has come good with Misbah-ul-Haq averaging 48.00 and Umar Akmal 41.75. But the other performances have been quite mediocre and not really worth mention.
Pakistan's bowling however, appears to be in better shape, for apart from their forgettable last match against New Zealand, the bowlers have done well. With a tally of 15 wickets from 4 matches, Afridi is the tournament's leading wicket-taker and averages a robust 8.52 while Umar Gul who has picked up 7 wickets, has conceded 17.71 runs per scalp.
So, that's how the number game squares up for both sides. But they would do best to forget about it and play to their utmost potential on Monday.