Lahore - Stand-in captain Hamilton Masakadza has said on Thursday that the two-match suspension of regular skipper Elton Chigumbura is a big blow for Zimbabwe when it takes on Pakistan in the second one-day international on Friday.
The ICC has suspended Chigumbura for the remaining two ODIs against Pakistan for maintaining slow over-rate during his side's 41-run loss on Tuesday.
"It's a big blow on both fronts, in terms of the way he's been batting and also in terms of his leadership out there on the field," Masakadza said.
"But what's being done is done, we have to move on from here and hopefully the guys sitting out step up and fill in his shoes."
Chigumbura scored his maiden ODI century on Tuesday before he was bowled for 117 as Zimbabwe finished with an impressive 334-5 after Pakistan posted 375-3 with Shoaib Malik scoring a blistering 112 in his first ODI in two years.
Zimbabwe batsman Craig Ervine has also been ruled out of the series after he suffered hamstring injury in the first ODI.
Masakadza, 31, has a poor record in his short stint as Zimbabwe skipper. He has lost all seven ODIs as Zimbabwe skipper and will be leading again after six years since last captaining against Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe batsmen have done well so far by posting over 170 runs in each of the two Twenty20 before their bowlers couldn't finish off the matches.
"It's been batter friendly conditions (and) we expect a lot of high scores, so it's not a real reflection of our bowling," Masakadza said.
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said he could take advantage of Chigumbura's absence to win first ODI series for Pakistan in 17 months. Pakistan has lost five ODI series in a row - twice against New Zealand - since last beating Sri Lanka in Dec. 2013.
"It's unfortunate because he (Chigumbura) is their main player and is in good form so there will be advantage for us," Ali said.
But Pakistan bowlers gave Ali enough headaches in the first ODI when Zimbabwe smashed recalled fast bowler Mohammad Sami for 63 runs in seven overs and Anwar Ali gave away 81 off his 10 overs.
Ali said the dew also played its part in his fast bowlers' poor performance. "After 16-17 overs the ball got wet so it was tough to bowl," he said.
Pakistan has to beat Zimbabwe 3-0 to be in contention for 2017 Champions Trophy as it slipped to No. 9 in the rankings after losing 3-0 to Bangladesh last month.
"Every match is important because Champions Trophy is the target in on our minds," Ali said.
Zimbabwe is the first test playing country to tour Pakistan in six years since gunmen attacked on Sri Lanka team bus - also in this eastern city of Lahore - in 2009.
Thousands of policemen and paramilitaries have been deployed to provide blanket security to the visitors to avoid a repeat of 2009 which suspended international cricket in Pakistan.
"Obviously it was a little bit nervous coming up (to Pakistan), but the way we've been received and the way we've been looked after I think everyone is feeling quite at home," Masakadza said.
Big crowds have turned up at the Gaddafi Stadium in both Twenty20s and then watched Pakistan went ahead 1-0 in the three-match ODI series on Tuesday. Masakadza was surprised when thousands of spectators even cheered his team.
"It's been really refreshing that they supported us ... it's something quite different for us which we are not used to it," Masakadza said. "It's been very good for us to have the crowd behind us as well, it's made us playing a lot better."