Zimbabwe was granted a return to Test cricket by the ICC last year after a gap of six years. They had been obliged to field a weak side following a strike of nearly all their professionals and two consequent Test defeats by an innings and more than 200 runs.
Withdrawal from Tests was inevitable and those years have been used to rebuild. With just what success is now under the microscope with three successive tours – by Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan and in October/November New Zealand.
These opponents are considered by the ICC to be ones a nascent Zimbabwe can best cope with.
The new Zimbabweans got off to a good start two weeks ago in beating Bangladesh by 130 runs and then by 3-2 in an ODI series.
Now they are called upon to move up a big step. Pakistan will inevitably start favourites, even though there appears to be continuing discord in their camp.
Coach WaqarYounis suddenly declared his resignation last year with the Zimbabwe tour his intended last.
And Pakistan will also not have ShahidAfridi on the tour as he has said he will not work with Younis, nor with the present executive.
They were also in dressing room disorder here in 1995 when they lost to Zimbabwe by an innings, with Grant Flower, the present batting coach, scoring an undefeated 201.
However, their overall record is perhaps the one to be taken most account of. Pakistan have won eight of the 14 played, with two defeats. Their last encounter was in 1992 when Pakistan won both Tests, by 119 runs and by 10 wickets.
Earlier this year they broke even 1-1 in a West Indies series, also winning one and drawing one against New Zealand.
Pakistan have rested Umar Gull, WahibRiaz and AbdurRehman on this tour, bringing back ImranFarhat, AdnanAkmal and SohailTanveer. They introduce Ramiz Raja, Yasir Shah and AizazCheema.
Zimbabwe are expecting seamer Brian Vitori back after a leg muscle strain. But he still needs to prove fitness. He had two five wicket hauls against Bangladesh and is their key strike bowler.
Misbah-ul-haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, TauficUmar, ImranFarhat, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, AsadShafiq, UmarAkmal, Rameez Raja Jnr, AdnanAkmal (wk), SaeedAsmal, Yasir Shah, SohailTanveer, Ramiz Raja, Yasir Shah, AizazCheema.
Zimbabwe have not yet formally released names in their squad but the team will be selected from:
Brendan Taylor (capt), VusiSibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, TatendaTaibu (wk), Forbes Mtizwa, Craig Ervine, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Kyle Jarivis, Raymond Price, Christopher Mpofu, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori.