Image courtesy of: Dawn.com
Pakistan fought back to win the series after losing the first ODI
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq guided his team to an impressive 2-1 series win over Zimbabwe after smashing 67 and running out two Zimbabwean batsmen in the third and final ODI at Harare Sports Club.
The series was deadlocked prior to this match, as Zimbabwe stunned Pakistan in the first ODI before the Asian giants came back to level the series at one game apiece.
Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor won the toss and elected to bowl first once again.
However, there would be no early wickets for Zimbabwe as Pakistan’s opening pair of Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad put together a 66-run partnership before pace bowler Tendai Chatara finally got the much-needed breakthrough as he dismissed Jamshed for 38.
Shehzad was looking in good nick and soon brought up his half-century, but he didn’t last much longer after passing the milestone as he was caught out off the bowling of Hamilton Masakadza for 54 off 85 balls, which included three boundaries.
Umar Amin and ul-Haq registered a 51-run partnership to steady the innings before Amin was out caught and bowled to Prosper Utseya for 33 off 25 deliveries, which included four boundaries.
From there on, ul-Haq increased the scoring rate and recorded yet another half-century.
Ul-Haq was flying along and Pakistan’s run rate was picking up, but it all ended when he was caught out off the bowling of Shingi Masakadza for 67 off 85 balls, which included six boundaries.
A quickfire 22 off 13 deliveries from wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed helped Pakistan reach a respectable score of 260 at the end of their 50 overs.
Chatara was the pick of Zimbabwe’s bowlers with three wickets, while both Masakadzas and Utseya snapped up one wicket apiece.
With a target of 261 separating them from winning the series, Zimbabwe got off to a rocky start as opening batsman Vusi Sibanda was removed for just two runs.
Hamilton Masakadza managed to score 25 runs before being stumped by Ahmed off the bowling of Abdur Rehman.
Masakadza’s wicket led to the entire middle order collapsing as Zimbabwe went from 46/2 to 87/6.
Their only bright spot was a 58-run partnership between Utseya and Malcolm Waller, who ended up scoring 48 off 71 balls, which included four boundaries.
After both batsmen were dismissed, Pakistan mopped up the tail fairly quickly and breezed to a 108-run win.
Rehman, Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal all picked up two wickets apiece, while Shahid Afridi chipped in with one.
Ul-Haq was named the Man of the Match for his outstanding innings of 67.
“Yeah we were really struggling and the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat,” he said. “I didn’t really know what was happening but Umar Amin played a good innings. The openers gave us a good start but the game changed when Amin came in and Sarfraz also batted well and we managed a good total. There was a little inconsistent bounce and pace so I wanted to make sure we played the 50 overs and post something around 250-260. We dont need to think about records too much. They always come along, but we just need to go there and play to win the game and thats what we did. We have a very settled Test squad and everyone is performing. They know their role and most of them are seniors now so its not a problem for us.”
Hafeez picked up the Man of the Series award for scoring 232 runs at a mind-boggling average of 232 in the three ODIs.
“In the last couple of games I wasn’t scoring runs and thanks to my team-mates and my coaches have helped me,” he said. “The leg is still not feeling well, but I was trying to be in the game. After the first game, we needed to work hard and play well in the next two. I was having trouble running twos and threes so I thought it was best to take some treatment and with the Test series around the corner it seemed the right thing to do.”