Putting behind them a “bizarre” washout against South Africa, Zimbabwe aim to counterattack Pakistan speedster Haris Rauf on a fast and bouncy Optus Stadium pitch, says captain Craig Ervine.
Having progressed from the first round, Zimbabwe’s Super 12s opener against South Africa ended in farcical scenes as rain ensured the nine-overs-a-side fixture could not be completed. Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton was critical of the officials’ decision to keep playing amid wet and slippery conditions as much debate ensued post game.
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“The game against South Africa was a little bit of a bizarre evening,” Ervine told reporters on Wednesday. “From a batting perspective, we were trying to work out how best to go about getting a decent score in nine overs. We knew we had to go fairly hard up front to get off to a good start.
“The weather looks good tomorrow evening though, so we can go back to our game plan knowing we have a full 20 overs to bat. Our batting innings will look more calm and composed.”
While partly cloudy conditions are expected in Perth, the heat will be on ZImbabwe’s batters against the talent-laden Pakistan attack led by Rauf, who bowled aggressively against India before Virat Kohli had the last word.
Zimbabwe, unleashing a more care-free approach since the appointment of Houghton as head coach mid-year, are preparing to tackle Rauf and his fellow quicks with a positive mindset.
“I don’t think you sit back and let quailty bowlers like that bowl at you, otherwise it’s going to be a matter of time before they get you out,” Ervine said. “It will be a case of trying to make sure that you’re putting them under just as much pressure as what they’re putting you under.
“You can’t get in your shell. We have a longish batting order. We have to back everyone.
“Perth is obviously going to be a little quicker than Hobart, so we’ll have to try to assess those conditions and try our best to get a decent score on the board.”
Underdogs Zimbabwe hopes to unleash their own talented seam attack, but Richard Ngarava is in doubt with an ankle injury sustained after he slipped amid inclement conditions in Hobart.
“He’s (Ngarava) doing alright….we’ve got a training session and we’ll see how he warms up. There’s quite a lot of time to recover, hopefully it’s not too serious,” said Ervine, who tipped quick Brad Evans as a likely replacement if Ngarava is ruled out.
After Pakistan’s dramatic loss to India at the MCG, Ervine braced for a fired-up opponent with major stakes on the line, but believed Zimbabwe could cause a boilover if they can adapt to the Optus Stadium’s conditions and vast dimensions, particularly square of the wicket.
“I’m pretty sure Pakistan will be coming hard for us,” he said. “The first five-six overs with the new ball has been challenging for every team.
“It’s a key area to get through and capitalise with a lot of twos (on offer) in the middle overs with the bigger boundaries.
“We want to play exciting cricket.”