All Eyes On the Bullish Chevrons

CHAMU CHIBHABHA says there is desperation to win in the Chevrons camp as they begin the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign against Pakistan at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium today.

The Chevrons are back in international action for the first time in seven months.

The day-night match is scheduled to begin at 9am Zimbabwean time.

Despite starting as underdogs, Chevrons captain, Chibhabha is confident they can secure a win on Pakistani soil.

The Zimbabweans have won only one of the 19 ODIs they have played in Pakistan.

They last beat the Asians, in their backyard, on November 22, 1998.

The overall record is also in favour of Pakistan, who have won 52 of the 59 matches, between these teams.

However, Chibhabha was exploding with confidence when he faced the media via a virtual press conference.

The 34-year-old challenged his teammates to up their game and charm the world with a shock win.

“Over the years, we have been a team that doesn’t really go over the line but we have talked about it,” he said.

“So, in the camp, there is a lot more desperation to win.

“If you look at our tour in 2015, we did reasonably well but didn’t do enough to win games and that’s what we are focusing on now.

“The emphasis is on guys putting up performances that get us over the line, not just a good-looking 50 or a good-looking 100.

“We want the guys to have the desperation to carry the team over the line — that’s the attitude in the camp at the moment.”

The ODI series is part of the inaugural Super League that is serving as the main route for qualification for the 2023 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup in India.

The 13-team league competition will see the top seven sides, plus India, qualifying directly for the World Cup.

The remaining five teams, along with five Associate sides, will play in a qualifier tournament from which two teams will go through to the global showcase.

The previous World Cup campaign was a disaster.

Zimbabwe are likely to go for experience in the first match with Chibhabha and Brian Chari likely to get the innings going if they bat first.

Five other players from the last tour — Elton Chigumbura, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Richmond Mutumbami and Sikandar Raza — are in also in the current Zimbabwe squad.

Fast bowlers, Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani, will lead the attack.

It will also be exciting to see young talents like Wessly Madhevere and Richard Ngarava getting a go in the series.

“The last time I was here, I had a decent series. Now, I’m back as captain and it would be nice to get some good form and lead the team from the front,” said Chibhabha.

“I think it came at the right time. After playing a couple for a couple of years, with a bit of experience over the years, I think it’s the perfect time for me to be leading the team.

“Hopefully, we will have a good series against Pakistan.

“Our preparations have been really good. In the past we have been known not to play aggressive cricket but. . . we are just targeting to put their bowlers under pressure and play a bit more aggressively.

“If you look at the way ODI cricket has evolved, because of T20 leagues around the world, the scores have been ranging around 300, 300-plus and those are the targets we will be looking to set.”

Zimbabwe travelled without head coach, Lalchand Rajput, and bowling coach Douglas Hondo will be in charge of the team today.

Pakistan have a relatively strong squad although they opted to rest senior players Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir and Sarfaraz Ahmed for the limited-overs series.

They miss newly anointed vice-captain Shadab Khan, who suffered a leg injury, in the intra-squad warm-up match in Lahore.

Babar Azam will lead the Pakistan ODI team for the first time since being appointed as permanent skipper over a year ago.

“It’s a great honour for me to be able to captain Pakistan in ODI cricket,” said Azam.

“The ICC league gives every series context, with seven qualifying berths up for grabs.

“So, we want to put as many points on the board as possible so when we get to the World Cup, people talk about us seriously.

“In 2011, we qualified for the semi-finals and in 2019, we couldn’t get through. I don’t think the rankings matter but I want us to start well and I fully trust my team to perform well and qualify.”

Pakistan squad

Babar Azam (c), Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Musa Khan

Zimbabwe Squad for Pakistan Tour:

Chamu Chibhabha (captain), Faraz Akram, Ryan Burl, Brian Chari, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Wessly Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Carl Mumba, Richmond Mutumbami, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Brendan Taylor, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams

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