Zimbabwe made one change to their team, bringing in Kyle Jarvis for Chris Mpofu, while Pakistan made three, to give all of their squad a game with the series decided. Zimabbwe won the toss and elected to bowl first, bearing mind that the over 60% of the teams that decided to bowl first won their matches at Harare Sports Club. Superb batting saw Pakistan run up 34 runs off the first three overs, with Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat piercing the gaps for one boundary after another with ease. Then the bowlers tightened up, and the batsmen had to work harder until Hafeez pulled a ball from Brian Vitori to deep square leg to depart for 23 in the seventh over, with the score 45 for one.
This was the pattern of the Pakistan innings, with periods of great strokeplay followed by times when Zimbabwe managed to pull them back within limits, although the tourists always had their noses in front. There was to be some brilliant Zimbabwe fielding and catching, but it was not good enough to turn the match. A low catch in the covers removed Farhat for 37, but then came a stand of 97 in 19 overs between Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq, one of the three newcomers to the team. They did not take the attack apart, but worked the ball around the field seemingly almost at will, accumulating quickly and steadily. As long as they were together, Pakistan had hopes of reaching 300.
Asad was stumped for 51, but Younus went on to make 81 off 90 balls, although dropped twice. He and Shoaib Malik were both out to superb return catches by Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura respectively in quick succession, and this scuppered the team’s chances of 300. However, Misbah-ul-Haq and Adnan Akmal kept the score moving to the eventual total of 270 for five. Chigumbura, keeping an admirable line and length, was Zimbabwe’s best bowler with two for 36.
"There were too many dot-balls at the start which made it tough for people coming in. Good teams make it tough for you to build on a platform, and Pakistan played the better cricket today. Our bowlers showed good heart in the middle and end overs, but they came out and made it difficult for us," lamented Zimbabwean captain, Brendan Taylor.
Zimbabwe struggled in the beginning against accurate bowling from Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan. Sibanda brought the chase to life, taking three fours off an over from Tanvir, and the pair stepped up a gear. Crucially, they kept their wickets intact, although there were a couple of difficult chances. They both played with much better judgment and the 100 came up without loss in the 24th over. The bad news was that the required run rate was now over 6.5.
Sibanda had just reached his fifty, which he celebrated with a six over midwicket, and then checked out for 59 with a catch straight to long-on. The opening partnership had put on 110 in 25 overs. Brendan Taylor had an early exit, nudging a catch to the keeper for 6. Chibhabha after reaching his 50 began to attack, but on 62 hit a catch to short extra cover, reducing Zimbabwe to 133 for three. With the required rate now almost eight, this put tremendous pressure on the new batsmen.
Tatenda Taibu made 27 off 26 balls before falling on the midwicket boundary to a superb catch by Younus Khan, and then Hamilton Masakadza miscued a pull to midwicket. Zimbabwe were now 179 for five, required rate over eight, and all hopes rested on Chigumbura, who had done it before. But as he settled in with Malcolm Waller the rate rose to ten for the last eight overs, a virtually impossible task even for Chigumbura, given the circumstances and the tight bowling attack. The former captain struck one four in anger and then holed out on the midwicket boundary for 9 off 15 balls, the final nail in Zimbabwe’s demise.
Zimbabwe have a chance to get a victory on Friday in the first of two Twenty20 matches lined up in the series.