HARARE — A lot of expectations were heaped on Zimbabwe as they sat on the threshold of a rare series win against a top side, but they couldn’t summon the temperament to beat Pakistan, who came from behind to win the series 2-1.
Report by Crincinfo
The Results: Pakistan 260 for 6 (Shehzad 54, Misbah 67, Chatara 3-48) beat Zimbabwe 152 (Waller 48, Ajmal 2-15, Rehman 2-23) by 108 runs
While Zimbabwe’s bowlers did well to restrict Pakistan to a par score of 260, the batsmen failed to put up a fight.
Pakistan, in the process got a bogey off their backs by winning their first bilateral series in 10 years after the series was levelled (either 1-1 or 2-2) going in to the decider.
The match took place on the backdrop of a payments dispute that threatened a Zimbabwe boycott. The players put the distraction aside to take the field, but the batsmen were nowhere close to competitive despite encouraging signs even in Thursday’s defeat.
Zimbabwe’s hopes of chasing a rare series win against a top side took a blow as they lost six wickets before the 25th over, two of them being run-outs. Zimbabwe didn’t have the luxury of a solid stand by their openers, and they lost their way by losing four wickets for 21 runs.
Pakistan introduced spin as early as the second over and Mohammad Hafeez struck when Vusi Sibanda slogged him to deep midwicket where Umar Amin took a running catch.
Hamilton Masakadza, like he did in the second one-day international (ODI), showed a lot of promise with a couple of jaw-dropping boundaries off the seamers. Using the crease, he effortlessly lofted Junaid Khan over his head and the following ball pulled a six over deep square leg.
Seeing Mazakadza’s confidence against pace, Misbah-ul-Haq brought on Abdur Rehman’s spin the next over and he had immediate success, beating Masakadza in both flight and turn, and having him stumped.
Zimbabwe struggled to get back the momentum gained via the Masakadza-Taylor stand. Taylor had his moments where he swept the spinners and found the gaps, and had it not been for the calling, Zimbabwe would have a mainstay at the crease to put up a fight.
Sikandar Raza dropped the ball towards cover and set off, hesitated on seeing Misbah attack the ball, but carried on. Taylor was struggling amid the confusion and was dismissed via a direct hit.
Raza and Elton Chigumbura were lbw to Hafeez and Shahid Afridi repectively, the latter picking up his first wicket of the series. With all the specialist batsmen gone, except Waller, Zimbabwe were in need of a miracle.
Misbah started to find the boundary regularly after the 43rd over, shuffling across his crease and punishing the length deliveries. With Sarfraz Ahmed showing some urgency, Pakistan scored their last fifty in just 28 balls. Hafeez returned in the penultimate over to salvage as many runs as possible and, fortunately for Pakistan, was swift between the wickets after resting his hamstring.
Pakistan found that 244 was at least 20 short of challenging Zimbabwe in the first ODI. Having not won a deciding one-dayer after being level 1-1 or 2-2 in a bilateral series in the last ten years, the question was whether 260 would be enough to reverse that dubious record.