The first ever T20I between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was played in Harare, Zimbabwe. The scorers for this match were all in agreement that this was a fantastic match to watch. A very competitive contest with two sides that each had a number of household names on their roster. The teams fought toe to toe for three days and Pakistan ultimately triumphed by a huge margin.
The live cricket scorers for this match did not pick up on the fact that there were no bowlers whatsoever in either team. This was a very big oversight on the part of the official stumps and it showed. In the live match commentary on the other hand, what appeared to be an obvious omission was made. It was widely accepted at that point that the match might have been lost due to this oversight.
For those who are interested, here is what we know now: Two days later, Pakistan lost their final four wickets and were eventually defeated 4-wicket match to Zimbabwe. Pakistan’s batsmen were found wanting at times, especially when it came to bowling. Despite their best efforts, they failed to win any matches off their four wickets and even their top order seemed unsure as to the manner in which their side could go about winning the series. After the match, both teams took a week’s break before resuming their preparations for the next match.
Thereafter, Zimbabwe won the first two matches against Pakistan. Pakistan’s batsmen were found wanting on numerous occasions but could not win any significant wickets or find any support from their bowling unit. Then, in their last match, Pakistan were bowled out by a batsman who had received some useful support from the crowd. On day five of the tournament, Pakistan was declared no. 6 in their pool, eliminating them as heavy underdogs.
Given that this was an elimination match, there were bound to be changes and there were indeed many. But what has become very apparent over the past week is that Zimbabwe will lack the batting power that has made them successful lately. This has led to speculations that players such as batsman Tharindu Kaushik and wicket keeper batsman Dambwa Kumar may be dropped from the team. Given their experience, both players would certainly be in demand should the selectors decide to bench them.
But despite what the media may have to say on the subject, there is little doubt about who will captain the Zimbabwe team going into the first two matches against Pakistan. Last week when Pakistan were bowled out by a top side in the UAE, their batsmen failed to make enough runs to win even by scoring one run. In their first two games against Zimbabwe, the batsmen have managed to score runs but to no avail. The batsmen lack the experience in handling the bat, having been repeatedly picked for the top positions in their respective teams to score more runs than their opponents.
It is for this reason that many are tipping batsman Patrick Patterson to captain the Zimbabwe team in their first match against Pakistan. The Allrounder has already scored hundreds in his career and has established himself as one of the most accomplished wicket keeping captains in the world. Last week he was the man who helped defeat the USA in their first ever Olympics gold medal and has been named as the tournament’s coach. Against Pakistan, it would be Patterson’s reputation on the field which will carry the day. Not only is he experienced in leading a team to victory, he also possesses the knowledge of how to retain their momentum after losing a match and how to rebuild their confidence after being bowled out so comprehensively.
This, however, does not mean that Zahelen Patterson will be the only Zimbabwe captain in action during this match. After all, it is understood that both Tillakaratne Dilbey and Nicholas Taylor are very much part of the Pakistan cricket team and will certainly be relied upon heavily. That does not mean that the batsman from Zimbabwe can take over the captaincy just yet. This is something that both team management and the batsmen themselves must consider before the match starts.