As many as eight 50s were scored in the 1st ODI between Pakistan and the Zimbos. Thats an ODI record. The 5 half centuries in Pakistan's innings is also a record. This doesn't say much about the batting but actually highlights the low quality of the bowling that was on display.
Debutant Samiullah Niazi went for 6 runs an over and was treated like a club bowler by Vusi Sibanda and the other Zimbos. Opener Sibanda hit as many as 11 boundaries in his innings of 59 against a Pakistani new ball attack - even half as many boundaries would have been a far fetch for him had Pakistan's 1st choice (Asif, Gul, Sohail Khan) been fit.
At the post match ceremony Prosper Utseya, the Zimbo captain, said that he thought 300 was a chaseable target if they had managed to restrict Pakistan to that. With the Paki attack that was on display today, I don't doubt him. The stronger teams would be licking their lips at the prospect of facing these bowlers from Pakistan. Is this the same country that in the past produced some of the best pacers in the world!
Where have the Wasims, Waqars, Shoaibs, Imrans, and Razzaks disappeared? It has always been the bowlers who have won Pakistan matches. The decline in the pace battery has been the key reason behind Pakistan cricket's recent demise. Pakistan will not return to its winning ways against stronger opposition unless quality pacemen emerge or come back from injury.
The 3 pacers that Pakistan played today gave away 126 runs in 22 overs and took 2 wickets. Against a team like Zimbabwe that is hardly flattering.
The other debutant, Nasir Jamshed, had a promising start to his international career. He played with a lot of aggro and showed that he possesses all the shots in the book. But then there have been too many 18 year old openeres who have impressed in their initial outings before returning to the jungles around Pakistan. Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed all fall in that category. I hope that Nasir doesn't follow the same route.
Finally a word on the most important story from the match - the possible changing of the guard in Pakistan cricket. The XI that played today was the same XI that the chief selector had wanted but the captain did not. I had written about that in my previous post. Historically the captain and senior players in Pakistan have always had more power than the cricket board, however this incident might be what I call the changing of the guard with the power shifting to the PCB.
The current captain is no Imran, Wasim, Waqar, or Inzi, thus it it is very possible that he has no option but to do as the PCB tells him to. That is exactly why Younis Khan is not captain today.
If this can prevail I think it will go a long way in improving the state of Pakistan cricket. Player power has been a grave concern in Pakistan cricket since I've followed it. If the current PCB management is able to cure this cancer with a young captain and team, it will only provide positive results in the future.
I hope my observation is accurate and I hope our young captain remains the modest man he is and isn't affected by the root cause of all evil in Pakistan - power!