BY KEVIN MAPASURE
ZIMBABWE’S star batter Brendan Taylor is set to return to boost Zimbabwe’s bid to keep their three match T-20 series against Pakistan alive when the two teams square off at Harare Sports Club this morning.
Taylor missed the first match defeat on Wednesday owing to illness, but by afternoon yesterday, he had made significant improvements which pointed to his possible return for the second match, which Zimbabwe need to win to level the series.
But with Taylor coming back, another batter Craig Ervine looks set to be sidelined for today’s important match due to a calf injury sustained in Wednesday’s match.
By late yesterday, Ervine was considered a doubt for the rest of the series, which concludes on Sunday, but there is optimism that he will be back for the red ball cricket.
Ervine limped throughout his innings on Wednesday after he was struck by the ball and was eventually dismissed for 34, though he finished with the highest number of runs on Zimbabwe’s batting card.
His absence would be a major blow considering that he has been in top form in the T-20s.
He scored 250 runs in the domestic T20 competition just before the current series.
Zimbabwe will be thrilled by Taylor’s return, who will be looking forward to playing his 44th match in the T20 format.
He has so far scored nine half centuries in his career.
Like Ervine, Taylor also played well in the domestic competition and he will carry the country’s hopes as they look to hit back after they squandered a very good opportunity to beat Pakistan.
Zimbabwe managed to restrict Pakistan to 149 runs on Wednesday, but their batting let them down as they lost wickets in clusters, failing to build an important second partnership.
The home side felt that they should have done better with both ball and bat as they gifted the tourists an extra 20 runs, while their effort at the end of their innings was rather feeble.
Pakistan feel that they will need to improve in today’s match and so do Zimbabwe, setting up a potentially explosive match, although in an empty arena.
Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan said their batters would be looking to posting a bigger score today, if they have to.
“There is always a home conditions advantage, but we have world-class bowlers who have adjusted really well to the changed conditions from South Africa. The batters too have an idea of how the pitch performs and hopefully we will post a huge target in the next match.”
On the other hand, Zimbabwe captain Sean Williams wants to see his side take its chances when they are presented to them.
He observed that in the first match, they let themselves down by failing to take care of small issues.
“It is inexcusable the number of catches we dropped, which ultimately cost us the game. We need to improve our fielding. We will go back to the drawing board and improve better in the next game,” he said.
- Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinMapasure