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Cricket news - Pakistan hope to sign off African sojourn in style

Hasan Ali was the standout bowler picking nine wickets in the first Test

Hasan Ali was the standout bowler picking nine wickets in the first Test

Given the competitive nature of the T20I series between the two teams, there were expectations that Zimbabwe would be able to at least stretch Pakistan during the Tests. As it turned out, the longest format of the game highlighted the gulf in class between the two sides, something that the shorter forms often nullify. Apart from winning the toss, nothing went Zimbabwe's way in the first Test. Batting remains their weaker suite and it's clearly a brittle department that lacks experience and temperament.

It's an area the hosts will have to tighten up big time if they are to harbor hopes of competing in the final Test of the series. The probable return of their regular captain Sean Williams will definitely beef up the batting a bit and he along with Brendan Taylor will have a big part to play if they are to turnaround the batting fortunes. The tendency to lose wickets in clumps has been a long-lasting flaw for Zimbabwe and it was visible during the first Test. Obviously, partnerships are what they need - be it with bat or ball.

Pakistan had a near-perfect game and the only real blip for them was the mini-collapse by the middle order after their openers had set up a solid platform. Fawad Alam's inclusion has certainly added tooth to the batting line-up although skipper Babar Azam has hit a lean patch of sorts in Tests. He has only had two fifties in his previous 10 innings and while he hasn't looked out of sorts, Babar would want a big score under his belt. The bowlers all had a reasonable game with Hasan Ali being the obvious standout.

This game will be Pakistan's final match of their African tour that started with the white-ball tour of South Africa before the T20Is and Tests here in Zimbabwe. Babar's men have won every series thus far on the trip and it would take something extraordinary from Zimbabwe to prevent the visitors from signing off with another victory.

When: May 7-11 at 9:30 AM Local time

Where: Harare Sports Club

What to expect: The surfaces right from the T20Is have been on the slower side but there has been help for the seamers, particularly in the mornings. Batting is trickier against the new ball but not so much thereafter.

Team News

Zimbabwe: Regular skipper Sean Williams is expected to slot back in after having recovered from injury. One among Tarisai Musakanda and Roy Kaia is expected to make way for the captain, possibly the former. There is also a likelihood of Luke Jongwe making his Test debut, given the pacer's success in the T20Is.

Likely XI: Prince Masvaure, Kevin Kasuza, Sean Williams(c), Brendan Taylor, Milton Shumba, Roy Kaia, Regis Chakabva(wk), Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chisoro/Luke Jongwe, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava

Pakistan: Given how flawless the previous game was for the visitors, it's unlikely that they will be making any changes. The only real thought might be to give their white-ball star Haris Rauf his first taste of Test cricket. He has been named by skipper Babar in the 13-man squad for this game.

Likely XI: Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam(c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan(wk), Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf

What they said:

"Day 1's batting let us down, we got bowled out in two sessions and we were always behind the eight-ball after that." - Brendan Taylor

Squads

Pakistan: Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam(c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan(w), Faheem Ashraf, Nauman Ali, Hasan Ali, Sajid Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Zahid Mahmood, Shahnawaz Dhani, Abdullah Shafique, Agha Salman, Saud Shakeel, Tabish Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Sarfaraz Ahmed

Zimbabwe: Prince Masvaure, Kevin Kasuza, Tarisai Musakanda, Brendan Taylor(w), Sean Williams(c), Milton Shumba, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chisoro, Donald Tiripano, Blessing Muzarabani, Luke Jongwe, Wellington Masakadza, Roy Kaia, Victor Nyauchi, Richard Ngarava, Tanaka Chivanga