Pakistan 260 for 6 in 50 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 67, Ahmed Shehzad 54; Tendai Chatara 3-48)
Zimbabwe 152 all out in 40 overs (Malcolm Waller 48; Saeed Ajmal 2-15, Abdur Rehman 2-23, Mohammad Hafeez 2-40)
Pakistan won by 108 runs.
“So near yet so far” may be how Zimbabwe will want to review the Zong Presents the Haier Cup One-Day International (ODI) series against Pakistan.
After drawing first blood by winning the first ODI on Tuesday – their first against Pakistan in 15 years – Zimbabwe must have fancied their chances of taking the second match and with it the series. But the tourists fought back at Harare Sports Club on Thursday and leveled the series.
And so one-all is how they went into the decider – the third and final match, on Saturday.
Again Brendan Taylor won the toss, his third of the ODI series. And again he chose to field. But unlike on Thursday, there was no slip-up by his Pakistan counterpart. As he did in the first ODI but then in vain, Misbah-ul-Haq led from the front, this time with 67 runs which came off 85 balls, six of them fours, before he was caught by Sikandar Raza Butt off the bowling of Shingirai Masakadza.
The man of the match got support from man of the Twenty20 International series Ahmed Shehzad who recorded his second ODI half-century.
Seamer Tendai Chatara was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers. The 22-year old Mountaineers spear-head claimed three wickets for 48 runs in his 10 overs. The Masakadzas – Hamilton and Shingirai – and Prosper Utseya got one each as Zimbabwe worked hard to stem the run tide.
This they did and kept Pakistan to a sub-300 total which would not be as daunting as the target they were set in the second ODI. At the end of their allotted 50 overs, Pakistan were 260 for six in the third ODI.
But just as in the second ODI when Zimbabwe huffed and puffed to no end while chasing 300, on Thursday they never got going against a par total.
The opening partnership which was the platform for the win in the first match was not there as Vusimuzi Sibanda went for two in the fourth over after his effort off a Hafeez delivery was caught in the by a running Umar Amin at deep mid-wicket, and Hamilton Masakadza for 25 in the 11th.
But the general belief among the Zimbabwe supporters is that where there is BT there is hope. However, confusion caused by Sikandar Raza Butt having second thoughts about going for a run and good fielding by Misbah who made a direct hit led to Taylor (26) walking – the victim of a run out in the 15th over.
It was now 66 for three. Single figures from number four Raza Butt (6) and five Sean Williams (2) did not help matters.
Although there was a fightback by Malcolm Waller who fell two runs short of 50 and Utseya (23), it was too little and too late. Zimbabwe perished for 152 in 40 overs, leaving the tourists winners by 108 runs.
Pakistan won the series 3-1 and with that victory banished their curse of failing, for 10 years, to come back in deciders after being level 1-1 or 2-2 in a bilateral series.
Misbah was chosen as the player of the match and Hafeez of the series.
The tour now moves to the Test series, with the first match at the HSC starting on Tuesday, 1000 hours local time. The second and final Test is at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo starting on the 10th.