BRISBANE: Pakistan’s calamity hit World Cup campaign stops off at Brisbane on Sunday where they will look to get their first points on the board and so keep their quarter-final hopes alive against a bruised and battered Zimbabwe.
On the field, 1992 champions Pakistan have been mauled by 76 runs by bitter rivals India and suffered a 150-run rout at the hands of the West Indies.
Off it, the squad have been in turmoil with eight players fined for breaking a curfew, reports of a bust-up in training and chief selector Moin Khan being sent home in disgrace for visiting a casino.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, go into the game on the back of a four-wicket win over the UAE, a 62-run loss to South Africa and a 73-run defeat by the West Indies in a game where Chris Gayle made the first double century in World Cup history.
The African side have found it hard to restrict opposition batsmen — West Indies feasted on their bowlers to the tune of 372 for two while South Africa helped themselves to 339 for four.
Pakistan haven’t played since February 21 but despite the break, giving them plenty of time to chew over over their problems, they will be buoyed by knowing they traditionally hold the upper hand against Zimbabwe.
They have won 27 of their 30 ODI meetings, taking their most recent series 2-1 in Harare in 2013, although they did lose the opener by seven wickets with Hamilton Masakadza (85 in that game), Brendan Taylor (43) and Sean Williams (39) all likely to play at the Gabba on Sunday.
Zimbabwe’s only other two wins came way back in 1995 in Harare and 1999 in Sheikhupura.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who enjoyed innings of 83 and 67 in the 2013 series in Zimbabwe, said it was crucial to get the defeat against the West Indies out of their system and concentrate on rebooting their faltering World Cup campaign.
“We must forget it and learn from it. We just need to improve our performances,” said the veteran.
“If you got tapped in the previous two games, then you can’t perform. Every game is a new game, and now we have to leave it behind and prepare for the next one and try to win all other games. That is the only way.”
Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad has been cleared to play in the game despite suffering an ankle injury, an official said Friday.
The 23-year-old right-hander was sent for an MRI scan after team practice in Brisbane, complaining of pain in his left ankle but has been judged fit to play.
Shehzad scored 47 in the opening defeat by India but managed just one in Pakistan’s thrashing at the hands of the West Indies in Christchurch.
Zimbabwe have two points from three Pool B games with skipper Elton Chigumbura demanding his bowlers match the promising form of the team’s batsmen.
“We feel like we’re going towards the right directions, and with (coach) Dav Whatmore, since he took over, up to now we’ve been playing positive cricket,” said Chigumbura.
“Our batting used to let us down, but at the moment it’s the one that is actually being consistent more than the bowling. We just need to polish up on our bowling and fielding.”