By John Ward at Harare Sports Club
Pakistan (161 for 5) beat Zimbabwe (136 for 5) by 25 runs.
Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 25 runs in the first of their two Twenty20 International matches.
Zimbabwe gave a mixed bowling performance, but the main reason for their defeat was the serious failure of the middle-order batting to push along the score at the required rate after a good start.
On a warm sunny afternoon, Zimbabwe won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat. Tendai Chatara gave Zimbabwe a good start with two quick wickets. Nasir Jamshed (2) and the captain Mohammad Hafeez (3) were probably both furious with themselves for chasing wild deliveries and being caught off the edge, reducing the score to 21 for two in the fourth over.
Prosper Utseya, as usual the most economical of the Zimbabwe bowlers, took a good wicket in Umar Amin (14), whom he forced to sky a catch as he tried to sweep. The other wickets fell to Shingirai Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura. Brian Vitori bowled quite well without luck, but Utseya really prevented the batsmen from running away with the innings – his four overs going for only 15 runs.
The backbone of the Pakistan innings was Ahmed Shehzad, who opened and was fifth out, in the 18th over, for 70 runs which he scored off 50 balls. He lived dangerously at times, but he held the innings together and played many fine strokes. Shahid Afridi at the end scored 23 off 16 balls without really getting going, so Zimbabwe were probably fortunate that the total was only 161 for five wickets.
Zimbabwe omitted Sikandar Raza Butt from their team for this match yet one felt that Twenty20 is his game and an ideal opportunity for him to show his most brilliant strokes.
Vusimuzi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza went in to open, and they did a fine job for almost eight overs, putting up 53 until Masakadza went for a pull across the line to a ball from Anwar Ali, and was plumb leg before wicket for 18. Sibanda soon followed after making 31 runs from 42 balls.
The team hundred came up in the 16th over, at which stage 62 were still needed off just 25 balls. Chigumbura was kept back too late and when he came in and was bowled slogging across a straight ball, the situation was hopeless.
Malcolm Waller gamely hit 14 not out off seven balls at the end, while Brendan Taylor finished unbeaten with 32 off 30 balls – a quite inadequate scoring rate given the situation, but which should at least give him more confidence in the next match.
Zimbabwe had only five wickets down for 136 in the end. A defeat by 25 runs was not bad on paper but once Hamilton Masakadza was out, they lost their way. It was simply poor tactics, caused by inexperience.
All the Pakistani bowlers were quite economical for this form of the game, with Shahid Afridi’s three for 25 being most notable.