Zimbabwe 246-3 (H Masakadza 85) beat
Pakistan 244-7 (Misbah 83no) by 7 wickets
First One-Day International, Harare
Zimbabwe’s top-order batting finally all fired at once to give them a shock win over Pakistan in the opening ODI at Harare Sports Club. It is the first time that Zimbabwe have defeated Pakistan in any full international match since 1998.
Openers Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda both passed 50, while Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams made valuable contributions as they eased to their target of 245 with 10 balls to spare.
Earlier, half-centuries from Mohammad Hafeez and Misbah-ul-Haq hadn’t been able to help Pakistan post an imposing total as Zimbabwe’s seam trio of Tinashe Panyangara, Brian Vitori and Tendai Chatara all enjoyed good days.
Zimbabwe’s fans may have thought at the halfway stage that their bowlers had given them a good chance of victory but would have been mindful of recent batting failings.
However, for once, all facets of their game came good at the same time to underline what real talent there is in this Zimbabwe side; even one that is depleted by the loss of some of its best players. It was a timely win and will lift a morale which surely must have been close to rock bottom after recent events.
Masakadza and Sibanda broke the backbone of the run chase with a competent opening partnership of 107 in 141 balls. Sibanda was finally removed by Saeed Ajmal for 54, but captain Brendan Taylor joined Masakadza and the pair - arguably Zimbabwe’s best two batsmen - took their side closer to victory.
Ajmal then had Maskadza caught 15 short of his century, while Junaid Khan dismissed Timycen Maruma for 18 to spark just a few fears of a wobble. Fortunately, though, the mercurial Sean Williams was on hand to hurry them home.
He ended not out on 39 off 23 balls; displaying all of his undoubted talent and showing why many see him as having the potential to become Zimbabwe’s best batsman. Taylor was content to play second-fiddle to him and finished on 43 not out, with Ajmal, unsurprisingly the pick of the Pakistan attack with two for 44.
Pakistan will have been disappointed with the way that their seamers Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan bowled in comparison to Zimbabwe’s. They took just one wicket between them from 18.2 overs, whereas the performances of Panyangara (0-38), Vitori (2-42) and Chatara (2-32) were perhaps the key to Zimbabwe’s win.
Despite not taking early wickets, they allowed Brendan Taylor to maintain control for most of the Pakistan innings. Even when Hafeez and Misbah were adding 99 for the third-wicket, things didn’t get out of hand. They then came back at the end of the innings and ensured that Pakistan’s explosive lower-order didn’t undo their earlier good work, restricting them to just 54 runs from the final 10 overs of their innings in spite of the presence of Misbah.
© Cricket World 2013