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Pakistan set to take on Zimbabwe in opening Test

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Harare, April 28 (IANS) After the highs and lows of the T20I series against Zimbabwe, the Pakistan cricket team will be back in white overalls when they take on Zimbabwe in the first Test at the Harare Sports Club from Thursday.

The Babar Azam-led side — which last featured in a two-match Test series against South Africa at home in January-February winning both Tests — would like to repeat its performance in the two-Test series against Zimbabwe.

In between the Test series against South Africa and the upcoming matches against Zimbabwe, the visitors have played three bilateral T20I series (two vs South Africa and one against Zimbabwe) and an ODI series against South Africa.

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Pakistan have won all four white-ball series and the momentum will be on their side going into the Test series.

Pakistan had slumped to an embarrassing low during their ongoing Zimbabwe tour when they were bundled out for 99 runs chasing 118 on April 23. The one-off defeat helped Zimbabwe level the series 1-1. But the visitors won the final T20I by a big margin to clinch the series 2-1.

In the batting department, Pakistan will be hoping Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan score big. They scored centuries against South Africa at home. Rizwan, who is having an exceptional 2021 in white-ball cricket, will be eyeing another ‘player-of-the-series’ award after winning it in the two Test series against South Africa.

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Babar, who recently became the top batsman in the ICC ODI rankings and got promoted to No. 2 in the ICC T20I rankings, is currently on sixth spot in Test rankings. The right-handed batsman will be looking to contribute big with the bat in the Test series to get into the top-five.

Only 71 points separates the fourth, fifth and sixth positions.

Pakistan will rely on their most experienced batsman Azhar Ali in the two-match Test series to give them stability in the batting department. Azhar, who has scored 6,417 runs in 85 matches, will be eager to score big against the hosts, as Ireland, South Africa and Zimbabwe are the only Test sides against whom he has not scored a century in a career spanning more than a decade.

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In the bowling department, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi will be itching to take wickets.

Since 1993-1994, the two countries have played eight Test series, and the hosts have won only one — in 1998, where they won the three-match Test series 1-0.

In 18 Tests played so far, Pakistan have won 10 and Zimbabwe three. Four matches were drawn, while one was abandoned.

–IANS

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