The Pakistan cricket team, who arrived in the country on friday, will get their first feel of local conditions when they take on Zimbabwe XI in a two-day warm-up match starting at Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC) on Sunday.
The Pakistan squad under the captainship of 37-year-old middle order batsman Misbah Ulhaq arrived in Bulawayo around midday on Friday via South Africa for one Test match, three One-Day International (ODI) matches and two Twenty20 matches between September 1-18.
The tourists’ immediate focus will be on the two-day practice match where they are expected to field their strongest side so their players quickly acclimatise to the local conditions before the Test match.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, are likely to keep their cards very close to their chest by resting most of their senior players like they did against Bangladesh.
The element of surprise worked very well in the previous series against Bangladesh, where seamers Brian Vitori and Kyle Jarvis used their lack of exposure at the highest level to their advantage.
The selectors are likely to rest their frontline bowlers, with the inform Vitori, who has recovered from a sheen injury, Chris Mpofu and Kyle Jarvis all set to be rested for the practice match.
This leaves the likes of seamers Njabulo Ncube and Tendai Chatara and spinner Prosper Utseya and Natsai Mushangwe with a high chance of getting some game time in the practice match.
The same trend is also likely to be used in the batting department where skipper Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda all look set to be rested.
In-form Vusi Sibanda and Tino Mawoyo look most likely to be entrusted with opening the batting with the latter hoping for a big score which might just set the tone for the series.
Young wicketkeeper batsman, Regis Chakabva and Pakistan-born Raza, who both didn’t get a chance during the Bangladesh series could come in at crucial number three and four respectively.
Left-hander Craig Ervine, who will be desperate for a better performance this time around and rookie Forster Mtizwa should also feature together with Malcolm Waller.
The Zimbabwe cricket team has not moved from Bulawayo, the venue for the lone Test, since the conclusion of the ODI series against Bangladesh in a bid to familiarise themselves with the conditions there and hopefully, have a better idea of how the wicket will play.