Sport Cricket Pakistan and Zimbabwe face off to start 2023 World...

Pakistan and Zimbabwe face off to start 2023 World Cup qualification bids

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Pakistan host Zimbabwe for a Cricket World Cup Super League series in Rawalpindi from Friday 29 October as both teams begin their qualification campaign for World Cup 2023 in India.

History and conventional wisdom favour Pakistan

The record books show Pakistan have lost just one out of 19 ODIs across six previous home series against Zimbabwe. This should give new captain Babar Azam confidence ahead of their opening series of the Super League. The league has been introduced to bring context to ODI cricket and to confirm the top seven teams with direct spots for the World Cup along with hosts India. 

The Cricket World Cup Super League features 13 teams. The 12 ICC Full Members and the Netherlands, who qualified by winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17. The Super League will see sides play eight three-match series each, four at home and four away. The five sides that fail to qualify directly will get a second shot through a Qualifier. India will play in the league despite being guaranteed a place at the World Cup as hosts.

Teams earn ten points for a win, five for a tie/no result/abandonment and none for a loss. Nations will be ranked according to total points earned across their eight series.

Reigning World Champions England lead the points table with 30 points after featuring in both series played so far. Eoin Morgan’s team beat Ireland 2-1 before losing to Australia by the same margin last month. England face South Africa in November with Super League points on the line.

Rankings positions on the line

Pakistan skipper Babar was player of the series in his country’s last ODI series against Sri Lanka played over a year ago, and is the top-ranked player from either side in the ICC Rankings. He is ranked third among ODI batsmen and is the only player named in the squads for the upcoming series who is in the top ten of either the batting or bowling rankings. 

Left-handed opener Imam-ul-Haq does, however, stand a good chance of moving back into the top ten, as he is just two points behind England’s Jonny Bairstow.  

Fakhar Zaman is four places behind Imam in 15th position, while Haris Sohail (32nd) and Mohammad Hafeez (44th) will also be in focus as senior players.

Mohammad Amir was left out of the Pakistan the squad for the series leavinf fellow left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the home side’s leading bowler in 24th position. Spinners Shadab Khan (28th) and Imad Wasim (33rd) follow in the list. 

For Chamu Chibhabha-led Zimbabwe, Sikandar Raza leads the way on the rankings for batsmen in 47th position, 11 places below his career-best 36th position attained five years ago. Brendan Taylor, who has been in the top 1ten in the past, is in 50th place while Sean Williams is 57th.  

Zimbabwe fast bowler Tendai Chatara is ranked 43rd among bowlers and would be looking to move back towards his career-best 23rd position in April 2015. Spinners Williams (64th) and Raza (70th) too have attained better rankings in the past.    

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