By BV Swagath
Pakistan demolished Zimbabwe by 108 runs in the final ODI at Harare to clinch their 3-match Series 2-1. The hosts collapsed to 152 all out in 40 overs chasing a modest target of 261 on a flat surface.
It was a team-effort from Pakistan with not one individual really starring in the victory on their own. Opener Ahmed Shehzad and Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq worked extremely hard to score fifties. Pakistan asked to bat first by Zimbabwe posted a competitive total of 260 for 6 which wouldn’t have been sufficient against a better batting side.
The visitors were off to a solid start of 66 in 15.3 overs before Nasir Jamshed was the first to lose his wicket, caught behind playing a loose drive off Tendai Chatara. Jamshed scored 38 from 51 balls with 3 fours and a six. Last match centurion Mohammad Hafeez was forced to retire hurt in the 23rd over on 12 because of a hamstring strain. Skipper Misbah who replaced him had an extremely slow partnership with opener Ahmed Shehzad.
Pakistan lost its second wicket in the 33rd over with the team total at just 119. Ahmed Shehzad got his 54 in 85 balls with 3 fours. Umar Amin, who came in next, gave the necessary momentum for Pakistan with a cameo of 33 from 25 balls before chipping a sharp return catch to Propser Utseya. Misbah picked up the tempo eventually to score 67 from 85 balls with 6 fours while Hafeez returned to the crease right in the end to score 26* (from 34 balls). For Zimbabwe, pacer Chatara took 3 for 48. Hamilton Masakadza with his little medium pacers did a great job to bag figures of 5-1-9-1.
Chasing 261, Zimbabwe with an inexperienced batting line-up were never quite there in the contest especially against a top quality bowling attack. The only man who could do any difference for the hosts was Skipper Brendan Taylor who got run out after scoring a busy 26 from 29 balls.
The hosts suffered two more run outs in the course of their innings. For the Pakistanis – Hafeez, Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal took two wickets each. The match was as good as over when Zimbabwe slipped to 75 for 5 in 17 overs. It was dragged after that by Malcolm Waller (48 from 70 balls) and Prosper Utseya (23 from 50 balls).
The first breakthrough for Pakistan came from Hafeez early in the 4th over when he had Vusi Sibanda slog sweeping him to deep mid wicket. Hamilton Masakadza, who looked aggressive departed next in the 11th over, stumped off a turning ball from Abdur Rehman after a 42-ball 25. In the 15th over, a well set Taylor was run out by a direct throw from his counterpart Misbah around the cover point region. Sikandar Raza, who came in at no.4 was trapped lbw by a straighter one from Hafeez in the 16th over and Sean Williams got run out six balls later by Misbah.
Pakistan had barely used Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi and by then Zimbabwe had already lost half its side. Afridi removed Chigumbura lbw, early in his spell to have the hosts at 87 for 6 in the 23rd over. A frustrating 58-run stand between Waller and Utseya for the 7th wicket delayed the inevitable Pakistani victory. Misbah-ul-Haq got the Man of the Match award while Hafeez was named as the Player of the Series.
Toss and Teams: Zimbabwe have won the toss and asked Pakistan to bat first in the third and final ODI at Harare. The winner of this match will also win the series which is leveled at 1-1.
Zimbabwe: Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (C&WK), Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya, Tinashe Panyangara, Shingirai Masakadza, Tendai Chatara
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq (C), Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed (WK), Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Irfan