Pakistan continued their invincible form against Zimbabwe, easing to victory by a comprehensive 131-run margin. In a script that followed the T20 route, Pakistan recovered from a poor start with the bat to post a competitive total. Zimbabwe’s batsmen then succumbed without putting in much effort as Yasir Shah starred with 6 for 26, and Shoaib Malik picked up 3 for 30. In fact, all 10 Zimbabwe wickets in the match went to the slow bowlers, as the hosts failed to put up a decent batting show yet again at Harare. Only two Zimbabwe batsmen got into their 20s, a clear indication of their ungainly effort.
Zimbabwe, yet again, began poorly as Chamu Chibhabha was trapped lbw by Imad Wasim for 12. Yasir then took over. He began by cleaning up debutant Brian Chari, bowling him between bad and pad. Hamilton Masakadza was done in with a ball that kept low while Sikandar Raza and Elton Chigumbura fell giving simple catches, unable to control the drive. Richmond Mutumbami was brilliant caught in the slip by Mohammad Hafeez, who stayed low to collect the ball. Yasir fittingly finished off the match, getting Tinashe Panyangara caught at slip.
Earlier, Mohammed Rizwan and Wasim featured in a fighting sixth wicket partnership of 124 as Pakistan yet again recovered from a batting collapse to post a challenging score on the board. Similarly, for this third game in a row, Zimbabwe squandered a great opportunity to put the pressure right back on Pakistan, as they could not build on an excellent first half show with their ball, thus allowing Pakistan to recover. At one stage, Pakistan were five down for 128, but Rizwan and Wasim both hit half-centuries, and by the time the stand was broken, Pakistan had crossed 250.
What stood out about Rizwan and Wasim during this partnership was the confidence with which they batted out in the middle, having answers to whatever queries were posed at them. Of course, it is no secret that Zimbabwe are weak in the bowling department. But, Pakistan was in big trouble when the duo came together and did rather well to stitch together a partnership. They batted rather sensibly, rotating the strike on numerous occasions, but also got the boundaries when needed. The numbers demonstrate how well the duo performed. Rizwan got 75 from 74 with fours and a six while Wasim made a run-a-ball 61 with five fours.
Earlier in the day, batting was a struggle for the visitors. Azhar Ali was run outs by a brilliant piece of fielding from John Nyumbu as the fielder took advantage of a mix-up and scored a direct hit. Mohammad Hafeez added to his list of easy dismissals, driving Luke Jongwe into the hands of cover. Earlier, Ahmed Shehzad also went for a drive and hit one to mid-off, another side dismissal. Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik then began the rescue act for Pakistan, which was completed by Rizwan and Wasim. Ahmed and Malik slowly began rebuilding and contributed crucial knocks of 44 and 31 respectively.
--By A Cricket Correspondent