Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine has predicted that Pakistan will come hard at his team when the two sides clash in the Super 12 match of Men's T20 World Cup at the Perth Stadium on Thursday.
Pakistan had a dramatic start to the tournament, losing to India by four wickets in a high-stakes thriller at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. The Babar Azam-led side will be itching to get their first points on board when the face Zimbabwe at a venue where Ervine thinks adapting to the huge dimensions will be the key.
"I'm pretty sure that Pakistan will be coming hard at us tomorrow. They've got some really quality bowlers up front there with the new ball. So that will be a big challenge for us. Looking at quite a few games that have been played, that first sort of five, six overs with the new ball is challenging for every team. It's a key area for us to try and get through with the bat tomorrow and try and capitalise on a lot of 2s with the bigger boundaries in those middle overs," said Ervine in the pre-match press conference.
Zimbabwe come into the match after their first Super 12 game against South Africa at Hobart was abandoned due to rain despite the match being reduced to nine overs a side affair. Moreover, head coach Dave Houghton was extremely critical of match being played in wet conditions on field.
"That game against South Africa was a little bit of a bizarre evening. From a batting perspective, we were trying to work in how best to go about getting a decent score, nine overs. We knew that we had to go fairly hard up front to try to get ourselves off to a good start."
"The weather looks pretty good for tomorrow evening. So I think we can go back to our game plans. We've got a full 20 overs to bat. And I think our batting innings will look a little bit more calm and composed tomorrow," added Ervine.
Asked about his expectations from the pitch at Perth known mainly for its bouncy nature, Ervine remarked, "We watched I think it was England play Afghanistan, and it did look nice and quick and bouncy. I'm sure we'll be relishing that opportunity to run tomorrow evening."
"All those seamers have done extremely well for us, especially Blessing (Muzarabani), I'm sure he'll enjoy these sort of conditions. Hopefully Richard Ngarava is fit and he'll enjoy them as well."
Ngarava, one of the crucial fast bowlers in Zimbabwe's pace attack, is a doubtful starter for Thursday's game due to walking off the field after slipping in his follow-through caused by the wet conditions at Hobart against South Africa. Ervine signed off by saying if Ngarava's ankle doesn't heal up in time, then Brad Evans will replace him in the playing eleven.
"He's doing all right. We obviously had a travel day yesterday. We had most of today to recover. We have got a training session this evening, and we'll see how he warms up this evening. But again, even after today's training session, the game only starts at seven tomorrow."
"It's quite a bit of time for him to recover and hopefully it's not too serious. That would obviously be a straight swap (Evans for Ngarava), seamer for seamer. We'll have to look at a few different combinations and probably take it from there."