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30 Oct 2020 | 03:15 AM
Babar aims to sweep Zimbabwe ODI series
"We will try to whitewash them (Zimbabwe) by playing according to our strength," Babar said by video at Pindi Cricket Stadium

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has set their sights on sweeping Zimbabwe in the one-day international series that opens their World Cup Super League campaigns from Friday (30th October 2020).

The International Cricket Council has introduced the league to bring context to ODI cricket. The seven leading teams in the league will directly qualify for the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India.

The league features 13 countries playing four home and away three-match ODI series.

"We will try to whitewash them (Zimbabwe) by playing according to our strength," Babar said by video at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Pakistan boasts just one ODI loss against Zimbabwe in the last 19 games. The streak includes a 2-0 win at home in 2015 when Zimbabwe became the first full ICC member to tour Pakistan since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore.

Pakistan suffered a setback when Babar's deputy, Shadab Khan, was ruled out of Friday's opening match because of a leg injury the allrounder sustained during an intra-squad match in Lahore last week.

Uncapped Usman Qadir was in the 15-man squad for the first ODI as cover for Khan, and Babar hopes the legspinning son of the great Abdul Qadir will play up to his domestic standards.

Young fast bowler Musa Khan was also in the squad as backup to frontline pacemen Wahab Riaz and Shaheen Afridi.

As part of the coronavirus protocols, the games will be without spectators and the teams are in a bio-secure bubble in Rawalpindi and confined to their hotel. They are allowed outside the hotel only for scheduled practices and matches.

Zimbabwe's seasoned white-ball captain, Chamu Chibhabha, has said that staying in a bio-secure bubble while playing international cricket amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough.

Speaking to the media in Rawalpindi, Chibhabha made it clear that his team had come to Pakistan with an intention to win the limited overs series, starting with the first ODI on Friday.

"For me personally one of the toughest things to do is to be in a bio-secure bubble but being a professional if this is what it takes to play the sport, we all will do it. We will do it to represent our country," he said.

He conceded it was not easy for players to be isolated within a small area despite all facilities available to them.

"The only time we leave our floor is when we go for practice. It is tough on the players but that is how cricket is being played everywhere in the world. And from a team point of view staying together has allowed us to get closer together," he added.

He said the players were also now more excited and eager to go on the field and start playing cricket.

Chibhabha, who made his ODI debut way back in 2005, said as captain he had been thinking about getting a hundred in the series in Pakistan.

"It would be nice to get some form and lead the team from the front," he said.

The 34-year-old admitted that over the years Zimbabwe had been a team which failed to get over the line despite being competitive.

"I think now there is a lot more desperation and the mentality is we need to start getting over the line and winning matches.

"The series is important as it is part of the ICC World Cup Super League and considering each game can get us closer to the next World Cup every match is crucial for us."

He backed the ICC World Cup Super League competition and said it was fantastic that teams like Zimbabwe also got to play equal number of matches as others.

"It gives us the opportunity to play aggressive and good cricket and win matches to qualify for the World Cup."

He said Zimbabwe would try to put the Pakistani bowlers under pressure.

Chibhabha also said that he had been given the captaincy at the right time.

"I think the captaincy came at the right time, after playing for a couple of years with a bit of experience. Hopefully, we will have a very good series against Pakistan."

PakistanZimbabweMohammad Babar AzamChamunorwa Justice ChibhabhaZimbabwe tour of Pakistan, 2020Pakistan vs Zimbabwe - 1st ODI - Zimbabwe in Pakistan, 3 ODI Series, 2020
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