RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s impressive record at home stays intact as the hosts wrapped up the three-match One-Day International series against Zimbabwe, winning the second one by six wickets at the Pindi Stadium on Sunday.
Zimbabwe faltered with batting, managing a low 206 before getting bowled out. The total was never enough to test Pakistan’s batting line-up that raced home in the 36th over courtesy to some exciting batting display from captain Babar Azam (77 not out).
But it was Man-of-the-Match Iftikhar Ahmed (5-40) who deserved praise for adjusting to a new role and returning with the best career figures. “I have been working very hard on my bowling especially from the England tour and have tried to introduce variety in it. Though I try to bowl according to the wicket, sometimes my newly found verity also helps me,” Iftikhar said after receiving man of the player award.
Zimbabwe were never at ease after winning the toss and electing to bat first. Haris Rauf (1-31), who went wicket-less on his debut on Friday, finally got his first scalp giving his team an early breakthrough as he removed Zimbabwe captain Chamu Chibhabha (6). Debutant Mohammad Musa (2-21) was seen breaking through Craig Ervine’s (3) defenses on the second ball of the ODI career to reduce Zimbabwe to 27-2 in the 9th over.
The tourists never recovered from the two early blows, though they were served well by Sean Williams (75) and first one-day’s century-maker Brendan Taylor (36) during a 61-run fourth-wicket stand.
Part-time off-spinner Iftikhar then got into the act together running through middle and lower order of Zimbabwe with some tight line and length bowling display that saw him extracting some bounce with spin.
“I tried to bowl with variety in line and length and variety in bounce. I think that has helped me get wickets,” Iftikhar said.
The target never tested Pakistan’s batting potential after Abid Ali (22) and Imamul Haq (49) put on 68 for the opening wicket stand. Imam was unlucky to have missed his half century and was caught down the wicket, not before hammering five fours in his 61-ball knock. Debutant Haider Ali (29) showed some sparks but the exuberance of youth took over as he was seen taking the one-dayer as yet another T20.
Babar however ensured a complete local dominance with some exciting display of powerful shots. He smashed seven fours and two sixes during his 74-ball unbeaten stay. He later admitted that the pitch was a bit easier this time.
“This pitch was comparatively good for batting as stroke play was smooth. I really enjoyed my innings here,” Babar said.
He praised Iftikhar and said his bowling has given fresh options to the team. “It is a welcoming sign. Iftikhar bowled really well. We are trying different combinations and even today have given two debuts to local players,” Babar said.
Yet again Tendai Chisoro (2-49) was the pick of bowlers for Zimbabwe and was seen using variety in his spin.
With two back-to-back wins, Pakistan not only have taken the series 2-0 with one match to go, but they also attained 20 points on the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League table.
Zimbabwe won toss
Chari c Haider b Faheem 25
Chibhabha (c)c Rizwan b Haris 6
Craig Ervine b Musa 3
Brendan Taylor (wk) c Imam b Iftikhar 36
Sean Williams c Shaheen b Iftikhar 75
Madhevere c (sub) Fakhar b Iftikhar 10
Raza c and b Iftikhar 2
Tendai Chisoro lbw b Iftikhar 7
Mumba b Musa 11
Muzarabani b Imad 17
Ngarava not out 1
Extras: 13 (b 4, lb 1, w 8, nb 0)
Total: all out (45.1 overs) 206
Fall: 1-18, 2-27, 3-59, 4-120, 5-138, 6-142, 7-150, 8-171, 9-198, 10-206
Bowling: Shaheen 10 1 36 0; Haris 7-0-31-1; Musa 6.1-1-21-2; Faheem 7-1-30-1; Imad 5-0-43-1; Iftikhar 10-2-40-5.
Imam-ul-Haq c Brendan b Tendai 49
Abid Ali c Craig Ervine b Tendai Chisoro 22
Babar Azam (c) not out 77
Haider Ali lbw b Sean Williams 29
Mohamm ad Rizwan (wk) b Raza 1
Iftikhar Ahmed not out 16
Extras: 14 (b 4, lb 2, w 8, nb 0)
Total (4 wkts, 35.2 overs) 208
Did not bat: Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Muhammad Musa, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
Fall: 1-68, 2-100, 3-137, 4-162.
Bowling: Richard Ngarava 4-0-25-0; Blessing Muzarabani 8-0-48-0; Carl Mumba 1-0-12-0; Tendai Chisoro 10-0-49-2; Wesley Madhevere 2.2-0-14-0; Sean Williams 5-0-31-1; Sikandar Raza 5-1-23-1
Result: Pakistan won by 6 wickets
Man of the match: Iftikhar Ahmed (Pakistan)
Umpires: Asif Yaqoob and Aleem Dar (Pakistan). TV umpire: Ahsan Raza