Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman put on a show in Harare as he hammered a career-best 61 to lead his side to a comprehensive 74-run win over Zimbabwe in the first match of the T20 tri-series.
Opting to bowl first, Zimbabwe got an early breakthrough as Pakistan opener Mohammad Hafeez was caught by Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza at mid-off off the bowling of Kyle Jarvis for seven runs.
Hussain Talat did not fare much better as he was caught behind off the bowling of Chamu Chibhabha for 10 runs.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed managed to make 16 before he was sent packing by Tendai Chisoro.
Zaman and Shoaib Malik stabilised the innings with a 42-run partnership, during which Zaman surpassed his half-century.
He went on to score 61 off 40 balls, which included three boundaries and three sixes, before he was clean bowled by Chisoro.
Asif Ali took over after Zaman’s dismissal as he dominated the unbeaten 62-run stand he put together with Malik.
Asif finished on 41 off 21 deliveries, which included a boundary and four sixes, while Malik remained undefeated on 37 off 24 balls, which included two boundaries and a six.
Thanks to Zaman, Asif and Malik, Pakistan finished on 182/4 off their 20 overs.
Chisoro was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Chibhabha and Jarvis, who injured his hand while attempting to take a catch, chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 183 to win, Zimbabwe made a horrible start to their innings as Chibhabha was trapped lbw off the bowling of Mohammad Nawaz for a duck on the sixth ball of the innings.
Masakadza only mustered seven runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Hasan Ali.
Solomon Mire made an encouraging 27 before he was caught by Hasan off the bowling of Nawaz.
Once Mire was gone, Zimbabwe began to lose wickets at regular intervals. However, Tarisai Musakanda put up a fight as he struck a 35-ball 43, which included two boundaries.
Despite his valiant effort, Zimbabwe ended up being bundled out for 108.
Nawaz, Hasan, Hafeez and Usman Khan took two wickets apiece, while Shadab Khan claimed one.
Masakadza was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “Only bright point was winning the toss. They had a good Powerplay and put us under pressure. Yeah, I thought we gave them 20 runs extra. They guys filled in okay but we lost our way a bit the middle period.”
Sarfraz was thrilled to have won, and said: “First of all thanks to almighty Allah. The way Zaman, Asif, and Malik did the job for us…It looked like a good batting pitch. The ball did not come on in the first innings, but in the second it came on nicely. Credit goes to the bowlers, especially Usman and Nawaz. Plenty of cricket to be played in the series. Hopefully, we will do well.”
Asif was named Man of the Match.