x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Unstable Pakistan side must beware Zimbabwe on the rise

As a policy resting players is fine if you have a settled and successful side. Pakistan are none of those. They are developing, a forever unstable work in progress.

To those feeling just a little trepidation as Pakistan take on Zimbabwe, newly returned and recently victorious, history is no friend. Pakistan are one of only three teams to have lost Tests to Zimbabwe, the only team other than Bangladesh to have lost a home series to them and one of only two teams - Bangladesh the other - to have lost to them by an innings.

History is not always a great guide either, of course. Those results are from a different age and both sides were considerably healthier then. Zimbabwe have only just returned to Test cricket, and are beginning a very long journey.

And quite apart from sport's curse of the underdog, that nagging sense of a potentially impending slip-up - particularly in the one-off Test - stems mostly from Pakistan choosing an inexperienced side.

As a policy this is fine if you have a settled and successful side. Pakistan are none of those. They are developing, a forever unstable work in progress.

Forget about results: what benefits are to be gained from resting Wahab Riaz, who has barely begun his international career, and Umar Gul, a notoriously slow starter, ahead of a big season? Could room not have been made for both and the Khans, Sohail and Junaid, as Pakistan look to develop pace bowlers?

Zimbabwe looked keen against Bangladesh. They have an admirable captain in Brendan Taylor, an admirable man in Tatenda Taibu and a promising pace find in Brian Vitori.

They will also have the left-arm spin of Ray Price and as history tells us, Pakistan have not been slow to succumbing to that breed.

 

osamiuddin@thenational.ae