Zimbabwe tour of Pakistan, 1st T20I: Pakistan v Zimbabwe at Lahore, May 22, 2015
Zimbabwe 172/6 (20/20 ov)
Pakistan 173/5 (19.3/20 ov)
Pakistan won by 5 wickets (with 3 balls remaining)
Six years with no international cricket is a long time and the first game to break this isolation proved to be a thriller towards the end as Pakistan sealed a comfortable victory over Zimbabwe.
Opening pair of Ahmed Shehzad and Mukhtar Ahmed bludgeoned a mammoth 142-run stand for the first wicket, equaling the previous best for Pakistan— between Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal.
Salman and Kamran had also established a 142-run stand against Bangladesh at Gros Islet, St Lucia, back in 2010.
Video Link : http://www.ptvsports.net/?p=4480
Even though Pakistan’s opening stand made the chase look like a walk-in-the-park, wickets in quick succession made fans wonder if a “trademark” batting collapse was around the corner.
As Ahmed Shehzad holed out his wicket at long on with Pakistan just 33 runs away from the victory, it was a matter of time before the rest of the batsmen started throwing away their wickets.
Shehzad departed on a well-deserved 55 off 39 deliveries. Sean Williams was the man who trapped him. Playing brilliantly on 83 — nearing his maiden T20 ton — Mukhtar Ahmed, in his attempt to go over the rope, found Richmond Mutumbami guarding the boundary.
Mukhtar seemed to be a man with a tough attitude as was evident in the post-match ceremony, when he confidently left it up to the selectors to opt for him in other formats in response to a question by Ramiz Raja.
It was still an easy ride home when Mukhtar’s wicket left Pakistan at 144/2 in 15 overs.
“Tried and tested” is the word for an “experienced” middle order comprising Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal — all three of them fell for dollies.
When Hafeez tried to execute a late cut, the extra bounce got the better of him and it was up to the Zimbabwean wicketkeeper Charles Coventry to claim the catch off Graeme Cremer. Pakistan were 157/3 by then.
Still, the game was in the bucket.
With Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik on the crease, Zimbabweans had already started sensing Pakistan’s inclination towards a traditional defensive mindset.
Fall of wickets in quick succession unsettled Umar Akmal, who in haste closed the face of his bat a little too early, resulting in an edge towards covers. Pakistan were now stuttering at 162/4 with only 11 needed off the last 12 balls.
Sarfraz Ahmed was now at the crease to accompany Shoaib Malik, but the pair manged to score only five runs off the 19th over.
Six runs were now required off the final over.
After scoring two on the first delivery of the final over, Malik was clean bowled. Tinashe Panyangara produced a perfect yorker to get rid of the experienced batsman’s middle stump.
As nerve-wracking as it was for fans to witness a sudden fallout, sentiments in Pakistan’s dressing room would have been no different.
The atmosphere at the Gaddafi Stadium had turned intense by now as Shahid Afridi walked down the crease.
Four runs were needed of four balls. Before any prediction could have been made, the flamboyant Afridi had already hit Panyangara straight down the ground to seal victory for Pakistan.
For Zimbabwe, captain Elton Chigumbura’s cameo of 54 off 35 deliveries along with a solid 58-run opening stand saw the African side inching towards a decent total.
Hamilton Masakadza’s contribution of 43 runs off 27 balls paved the way for Zimbabwe’s batsmen to capitalise on the flow of runs and charge the Pakistan attack.
But Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz and Shoaib Malik counter-attacked to contain the fast-going Zimbabwe.
The quick bowling changes by Afridi worked in Pakistan’s favour and put at halt the flow of runs. Still, Zimbabw’s 172 made for a great cricketing contest.
With its fighting spirit, Zimbabwe has penned down rules for the rest of the series: it won’t be a piece of cake for Pakistan.
News copy by DAWN