Zimbabwe vs Pakistan 2nd ODI: Brilliant Hafeez helps Pakistan level series

Image courtesy of: Star Sports

Hafeez single-handedly levelled the series

Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez helped his side level the ODI series at one game apiece after scoring a magnificent unbeaten century.

Pakistan were stunned and in shock as Zimbabwe ran away with the first game behind opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza’s superb knock of 85.

Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor won the toss and chose to bowl first due to the wicket being slightly green, which he believed would give his bowlers some assistance.

The pitch definitely seemed to work in Zimbabwe’s favour early on as pace bowler Brian Vitori dismissed Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad for just five runs.

However, Pakistan were able to recover, thanks to a 50-run partnership by Nasir Jamshed and Hafeez.

Just as the partnership looked to be flowering, Jamshed was given out lbw for 32.

It also seemed that for once Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq could not play a match-saving innings as he became Vitori’s second victim after hitting the ball straight to Sean Williams.

Just as Pakistan looked to be losing their momentum, Hafeez and Umar Amin came together and amassed an outstanding 129-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Amin was run out by Tendai Chatara for 59 off 71 balls, which included five boundaries and a six.

However, the fireworks didn’t end there as Hafeez and veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi registered a quickfire 86-run partnership, which came at a blistering run rate of 11.46, to take Pakistan to 299 at the end of their 50 overs.

Hafeez finished unbeaten on 136 off 130 deliveries, which included nine boundaries and an incredible five sixes, while Afridi remained undefeated on 39 off 23 balls, which included one boundary and three maximums.

Vitori was the pick of Zimbabwe’s bowlers with two wickets, while Prosper Utseya chipped in with one.

With a mammoth total of 300 standing between them and a 2-0 series lead, Zimbabwe got off to a poor start as opening batsman Vusi Sibanda was caught behind off the bowling of Mohammad Irfan for just two runs.

His opening partner, Hamilton Masakadza, could only record 24 runs before he was clean bowled by pace bowler Junaid Khan.

Timycen Maruma failed to contribute with the bat once again as he could only muster up eight runs before being run out.

With Zimbabwe in dire trouble at 65/3, Taylor and Williams steadied the ship with a 70-run partnership, during which Taylor brought up his half-century, before Williams was dismissed for 37 off 38 balls, which included four boundaries.

Taylor and Malcolm Waller continued to pile on the runs as they registered a 65-run partnership until Taylor was finally on his way back to the pavilion after scoring 79 off 95 deliveries, which included six boundaries and a six.

Taylor’s dismissal sparked a huge flurry of wickets as Zimbabwe went from being 200/5 to 209 all out.

Waller scored 40 runs off 42 balls, which included six boundaries before he was cleaned up by Khan.

Khan inflicted the most damage as he took four wickets, while the spin duo of Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal took two wickets apiece and Irfan snapped up one wicket as well.

Taylor was disappointed to have let the game slip out of Zimbabwe’s hands, and said: “The wicket played better than we thought it would. Their batsmen played very well and ran away with it. It was all about wickets in hand, we had a chance but they came back strong as expected. We had the momentum and self-belief from the last game. There are areas to improve on. The first game did us wonders but we’ll have to produce something good and rectify a few things now.”

Ul-Haq was pleased to have levelled the series and praised his entire team for their excellent performance.

“The conditions are not easy to read,” he said. “This pitch looks greener but it played better in the second innings, it played ok in the first innings also. Amin played very well and Afridi finished it very well. Conditions here improve in the second innings so 299 was a good score for our bowlers. The Zimbabwe batsmen were playing sensibly, so that was something to worry about. I was only looking for a wicket and once Tayor got out, there was huge pressure on them to score over 10-per-over. We hope to put a good show on Saturday and we really need to improve in the next game.”

Hafeez was named the Man of the Match for his entertaining innings of 136.

“I’m really happy scoring runs at crucial stages for my team,” he said. “We knew that it was tough to bat first, they bowled in the right areas in the first 20 overs. Umar Amin’s partnership with me was good and then Shahid Afridi blasted some runs which gave us a good score. We were actually looking for a score around 260, not 300. Amin showed confidence and I was backing him as a senior, I just told him to play straight. We wanted to win this game and the boys showed great commitment. The pitched changed a little bit later and our bowlers did a great job.”

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