Pakistan will be desperately hoping to kick-start their 2015 Cricket World Cup campaign when taking on Zimbabwe in Brisbane. The 1992 winners have been handily beaten in both matches so far, losing painfully to local rivals India before being on the wrong end of Chris Gayle’s double century in an emphatic 150-run defeat to the West Indies.
With Associate nation Ireland having won both their opening matches, the result at the Gabba on Sunday could be crucial in determining which team secures a place in the top four of Pool B and moves onto the quarterfinals. In order to get a much-needed win, Pakistan will require a significant improvement. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq pulled no punches with his evaluation of his team’s performance after going down to the West Indies.
“Everything [went wrong], I think, in all three departments,” he said afterward, according to Reuters. “We couldn't bowl well, a lot of dropped catches. At the end of the day as a batsman, a bowler and a fielder you have to perform. As a team, as players we need to pick ourselves up and we need to perform.”
“Performances like that can dent you, damage you. We need to really recover mentally and think about our game. This is how World Cups are. You have to pick yourself up, think about your strategies, think about where you can improve.”
A disappointing tournament to date for Pakistan has been plunged into further strife by events away from the field. Chief selector Moin Khan has been sent home by the Pakistan Cricket Board, and greeted with a hostile reception when arriving back at Karachi’s airport, for visiting a casino the night before the match with the West Indies. Alcohol consumption and gambling are prohibited in Islamic Pakistan.
“I went to the casino to have dinner with some friends but in hindsight it was an inappropriate judgment on my part given the disappointment in the team's performance at the World Cup,” Moin said, reports BBC Sport.
There is some good news for Pakistan, with opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad expected to recover from a minor ankle injury in time to take his place in the lineup in Brisbane. Pakistan have never lost to Zimbabwe in five World Cup meetings, and their next opponents also come into the encounter on the back of a defeat to the West Indies. That left Zimbabwe still with just the two points, garnered from their narrow win over the United Arab Emirates, to their name, having lost their opening World Cup contest to South Africa. But former Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell believes there have been plenty of positives so far, although is in no doubt about what needs to improve if the team is to continue in the competition.
“We started encouragingly [bowling] in all three games, especially against South Africa,” he wrote in his column for the International Cricket Council’s website. “Neither the UAE nor the West Indies were able to get away from us in the first half of their innings either so, in short, we have plenty to be encouraged by in three quarters of all three games so far. Unfortunately, the final quarter has been horrendous. Every team in the tournament is struggling to contain batsmen in the ‘death’ overs, but none more than Zimbabwe.”
Match time: Sunday, 1:30 p.m. local time, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
TV channel: DISH Network, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable subscribers can watch the match via pay per view. More info here.