Zimbabwe vs Pakistan 2nd T20: Ahmed Shehzad steals spotlight once again as Pakistan complete series whitewash

Image courtesy of: India Times

Shehzad and Hafeez single-handedly crushed Zimbabwe

Pakistan completed a 2-0 series whitewash behind opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad’s career-best 98 runs, which is now the highest score made by a Pakistani batsman in Twenty20 Internationals, surpassing Misbah-ul-Haq’s 87 not out against Bangladesh in Karachi in 2008.

Shehzad was brilliantly supported by Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez, who registered an exceptional half-century and took three key wickets as well.

Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor won the toss and decided to bowl first since he wanted his bowlers to go on the offensive early.

Pace bowler Shingi Masakadza led the attack against Pakistan as he picked up the wicket of Nasir Jamshed, who scored 23 off 17 deliveries, which included three boundaries and a six.

However, it was all Pakistan from then on as Shehzad and Hafeez absolutely hammered the Zimbabwe bowling attack to record an unbeaten 143-run partnership, which is now the highest Twenty20 partnership for any Pakistani pair, surpassing the 142 scored by Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt against Bangladesh at Gros Islet during the 2010 World Twenty20.

Shehzad finished on 98 off 64 balls, which included six boundaries and an incredible six maximums, while Hafeez remained undefeated on 54 off 40 deliveries, which included three boundaries and two sixes, as Pakistan went on to score 179 at the end of their 20 overs.

Masakadza took the only wicket for Zimbabwe.

Chasing a difficult target of 180 to win, Zimbabwe got off to a solid start as their opening pair of Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda registered a 50-run partnership before Sibanda was caught out off the bowling of Hafeez for 23.

Taylor failed to stabilise the innings as he was dismissed for just three runs by Hafeez

Masakadza ended up scoring 41 off 32 balls, which included four boundaries and a six before he became Hafeez’s third victim.

Zimbabwe were struggling to keep up with the required run rate and despite a brilliant effort by Sean Williams, who scored 25, Elton Chigumbura, who smashed 35 and Malcolm Walller, who added 20, Zimbabwe fell short of their target by 19 runs.

Hafeez caused havoc amongst the Zimbabwe batsmen as he snapped up three wickets, while Zulfiqar Babar picked up two and Anwar Ali chipped in with one.

Taylor was disappointed with the performance of his side, especially since they let Pakistan keep their foot on the pedal after dismissing Jamshed early.

“I think they got 20 too much, our bowlers missed the mark too many times,” Taylor said. “Quite a few starts and we can improve on the partnerships. Good to see some of our batters spending time there. Guys’ confidence is a lot higher than when India was here. We have to regroup.”

Hafeez praised his team for securing a 2-0 series win and paid special tribute to Shehzad, who recorded half-centuries in both matches.

“The commitment and confidence was good,” he said. “Nice to see Shehzad hold the innings in both innings, today he tried to spend more time on the pitch. We were expecting 150-160 on this pitch. We all knew that we had to work hard even defending 180, on this pitch. It was good of Ajmal to give his place to Babar, good for Pakistan cricket.”

Shehzad was named the Man of the Match as he finished the series with 168 runs at an eye-popping average of 168.

“Important to be consistent and I have been trying hard at it,” he said. “Myself and Hafeez wanted to bat out at least 15 overs. The ball was skidding onto the bat. They bowled well too, but they didn’t have the pace to bowl the quick yorkers.”

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