Asif debuts, Babar returns in series opener against Zimbabwe

Asif Ali is making his one-day international debut for Pakistan while Babar Azam is back from injury as Pakistan were invited to bat in the series opener against Zimbabwe on Friday.
Pakistan are starting the series as clear favourites, but captain Sarfraz Ahmed expects the hosts to be challenging opponents in their home conditions as their tour moves to Bulawayo for five games in the longer of cricket´s two short formats.
“The one-day series is important, and it´s not easy to play Zimbabwe in their home conditions,” said Sarfraz.
“The matches are also starting very early. It´s probably even more cold in Bulawayo too, so it´s not going to be an easy series.”
Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput promised Pakistan “a real fight” from a squad that still also includes several veterans alongside the rookies.
“Pakistan are very strong but our players are a little bit confident,” Rajput said.
Pakistan have enjoyed unprecedented success in Twenty 20 cricket this year, and solidified their number one ranking in the format with their victory over Australia in the tri-series final last weekend.
That has not been complemented by good form in ODIs, however, and they were thrashed 5-0 in their last bilateral one-day series, against New Zealand in January.
Zimbabwe are likely to present much less of a challenge, despite playing at home, and Pakistan´s primary target in the series opener on Friday will be to secure their first ODI win of 2018.
Playing XI
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c&wk), Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan
Zimbabwe: Chibhabha, Chari, Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Musakanda, PJ Moor, Murray(wk), Tiripano, Roche, Wellington Masakadza, Chatara, Muzarabani.