Coach WaqarYounis takes charge for his last series as Pakistan aims to blood young players in a one-off Test against a buoyant Zimbabwe, which recently overcame its own inexperience to make a winning return to the five-day game.
The former fast bowler's departure is the latest of regular upheavals for Pakistan since a spot-fixing controversy in England a year ago. Expected to win, Pakistan's real test in Zimbabwe will be to finally find some unity and stability.
It could try out inexperienced batsman Rameez Raja and bowlers Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan, Junaid Khan and AizazCheema alongside the experience of captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, SaeedAjmal and recalled former test skipper ShoaibMalik — who traveled with the squad after being cleared of financial misconduct. Bowlers UmarGul, WahibRiaz and AbdurRehman were all rested.
Zimbabwe has had its own problems and was out of tests for six years following a player-board dispute which brought the game in the troubled African country to its knees.
But the Zimbabweans returned to beat Bangladesh in a test and five-match one-day series in August and, although inexperienced, displayed the team spirit and togetherness that Pakistan longs for. In new captain Brendan Taylor and young left-arm seamer Brian Vitori they also have batting and bowling promise.
"I think it is going to be a slight step-up (from Bangladesh)," Taylor told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "I understand they (Pakistan) have left (out) two to three of their best players. But they do have good balance of experience and youth.
"They are going to be tough opposition. But we've been playing some good cricket of late and there is no reason why we can't put up a good result."