Venue: Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2020
This will be the fifth overall match of a tour that began with the 1st ODI in Rawalpindi – the site of all six games due to potential issues with smog in Lahore – the day before Halloween. The first two ODIs went the way of the hosts in convincing fashion as they clinched the series with a match to spare. That match was the most interesting of the ODIs, with both teams finishing their 50 overs with 278 runs. This took the contest to a Super Over and the visitors picked up their only win of the tour in any format thanks to a dominant bowling performance from Blessing Muzarabani that saw him take two wickets and give up just three runs from his six balls.
Zimbabwe was, however, unable to carry that winning momentum into the 1st T20I of the series. Another toss win and batting choice saw them put up 156/6 from their 20 overs. Pakistan rarely looked in trouble during the chase, getting to 157/4 from 18.5 overs. Babar Azam – who has been in insane form recently – picked up over half of those runs as he struck 82 from 55 balls.
The second T20I also went the way of the hosts as they reacted better to the 24 hour turnaround time between the two matches. Zimbabwe was put in to bat by Pakistan, with the tourists making just 134 with seven wickets falling during their 20 overs at the crease. This was an even easier run chase than the day before, with Pakistan losing just two wickets as they completed the task in the 15th over.
Babar Azam and Haider Ali both hit fifties on Sunday and both are obviously in fine form. They were backed up by the bowling of Haris Rauf as he took the wickets of Brendan Taylor and Chamu Chibhabha before either could really get going. Pakistan’s biggest issue here might be one of complacency – they are clearly the better of the two sides by some margin – so it will be interesting to see if they can turn things up a notch if some of the Zimbabwean players finally show some form.
Do Zimbabwe have what it takes here to force out a victory as they did in the 3rd ODI? They will really have to pick up their form to turn things around against a Pakistan side that is quickly improving in this version of the game. Chibhabha has been a flop – again – this tour, picking up just 34 runs from his five innings. No team is going to consistently win when one of their frontline batsmen is playing at that low of a level.
Zimbabwe are so out of form – with the possible exception of Brendan Taylor even though he did far more in the ODIs than the T20is – that it is impossible to pick them, even with their 5.00 price at BetXChange. It will be interesting to see how the tourists approach this. One market that might be a fun side bet is match sixes. Taking over 8.5 at 0.80 with BetXChange could be a winner, especially if Pakistan bat first and really want to show off what they can do with an all-out attacking strategy.