Azhar Ali guides Pakistan to a comfortable win
Pakistan 269-4 (Azhar 102) beat
Zimbabwe 268-7 (Raza 100) by six wickets
Second One-Day International in Lahore
Azhar Ali struck a run-a-ball century to make sure there were no hiccups as Pakistan take an unassailable two game lead in the three game One-Day International series against Zimbabwe, winning by six wickets and 16 balls to spare at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Pakistan won the toss and opted to field first. Zimbabwe started very slowly, crawling to 17 for no loss after seven overs.
Chamu Chibhabha (99) broke the shackles with two fours off Anwar Ali’s (1-55) fourth over.
In his fifth over, Ali conceded successive fours to Chibhabha again, who helped Zimbabwe to 43 for no loss after 10 overs.
Chibhabha reached his fifty off just 51 balls with a four off Yasir Shah (2-40).
Vusi Sibanda (13) meanwhile was struggling on 11 off 41 balls. His 47-ball knock eventually came to an end as he charged Mohammad Hafeez (1-33) and missed the ball to be out bowled to end an 83-run partnership off which Chibhabha had scored 68.
Hamilton Masakdza (18) started well with couple of fours but was given out, even though he was disappointed about the decision, trying to reverse sweep with doubt over whether the ball came off his forearm or glove.
Zimbabwe were struck a big blow when Shah grabbed a caught and bowled opportunity from Sean Williams (5) reducing Zimbabwe to 122 for three after 27 overs.
Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, Chibhabha fell on the doorstep of a century off just 100 balls when he edged one down the leg to the keeper.
That was also right at the stroke of the batting power-play, Zimbabwe reaching 156 for four after 35 overs.
Zimbabwe managed just 31 runs in the next five overs thanks to some tight bowling from Wahab Riaz (2-55).
Zimbabwe though, managed to score 81 off the last 10 overs thanks to some excellent batting from Sikandar Raza (100 not out).
Zimbabwe reached 200 after 43 overs as Raza reached his 50 in just 56 balls under pressure.
Ali went for two fours off the next over but also got the wicket of Richmond Mutumbami (7) who scored at a strike-rate of 27. There wasn’t much support for Raza as Charles Coventry (10) fell cheaply as well.
The big over came from Mohammad Sami (0-53) whose figures were ruined after a 17-run over in which Raza hit two fours and a six.
Raza brought up his century in the fourth ball of the last over, as Zimbabwe could manage only 268 for seven in their 50 overs.
Wahab and Shah picked couple of wickets for Pakistan while Ali, Hafeez and Shoaib Malik (1-13) managed a wicket apiece.
Pakistan started steadily but lost their opener Sarfraz Ahmed (22) in the ninth over, trapped lbw.
They were being guided by man-of-the-match, Azhar (102) who played a steady hand to take them to 49 for one after 10 overs.
Hafeez (15) played couple of elegant shots but didn’t last long as he holed out to long off.
Pakistan managed to reach 96 for two after 20 overs. Ali had a stroke of luck when he was dropped on 53 by Chibhabha (1-10) off the bowling of Graeme Cremer (2-52).
Asad Shafiq (39) survived a run-out chance the next over when he was halfway down the track and had to return.
The game got interesting when Pakistan were down to 154 for three, losing Shafiq in the 32nd over.
Pakistan managed to reach 201 for three after 39 overs needing 68 off the last 11 overs.
Things got a little nervy when Ali was out first ball of the 41st over after reaching his ton.
Pakistan needed 57 from 54 but Shoaib Malik (36 not out) showed his fine form adding 60 quick runs with Haris Sohail (52 not out) in just 43 balls, the former’s runs coming at a strike-rate of 180.
Pakistan closed out the game in the 48th over winning by six wickets with 16 balls to spare.
For Zimbabwe, Chibhabha was surprisingly taken off after picking the first wicket while most bowlers bowled steadily without threatening the batsmen.
The last ODI of the series will now be a dead rubber with Pakistan winning the first two games even though Zimbabwe are still searching for their first win.
© Cricket World 2015