Bilal Asif spins Pakistan to series victory against Zimbabwe
Pakistan 162-3 (Asad Shafiq 38no) beat
Zimbabwe 161 (Mutumbami 67) by seven wickets
Third One-Day International in Harare
Bilal Asif and Imad Wasim spun a fascinating victory for Pakistan as they bagged the One-Day International series against Zimbabwe 2-1 by winning the final One-Day International in Harare by seven wickets.
Sarfraz Ahmed was leading Pakistan in the absence of Azhar Ali, who was down with a foot infection.
After winning the toss and opting to field first, proceedings did not go to plan for Pakistan as Zimbabwe got off to a firm start as a result of a determined 89-run opening stand.
Chamu Chibhabha (48) and Richmond Mutumbami (67) displayed copybook cricket by negotiating the early overs while scoring at a decent pace.
Things completely turned on their head as Sarfraz introduced off-break bowler Asif, who provided the first breakthrough for Pakistan by taking a sharp catch off his own bowling to dismiss Chibhabha.
Meanwhile, Mutumbami (67) was holding his fort strong on one end and he brought up his fifty in 67 deliveries.
The introduction of Wasim from the other end proved fruitful for Pakistan as he dismissed Brian Chari (4) lbw to deliver the second blow to Pakistan.
However, Asif became completely unstoppable as he dismissed Sean Williams (5) and Zimbabwean skipper Elton Chigumbura (0) in the 27th over to leave the home team reeling at 111 for four.
Pakistan did not look back from then as Asif's juggernaut sunk Zimbabwe further as Sikandar Raza (2) and Tinotenda Mutombodzi (4) returned to the pavilion soon after arriving in the middle.
Mohammad Irfan (1-43) dismissed Mutumbami and Zimbabwe were reduced to seven down for 133 in the 33rd over.
Wasim got rid of Malcolm Waller (8) and Tinashe Panyangara (0) in the 36th over as Shoaib Malik (1-4) got the final wicket of John Nyumbu (4); the Zimbabwean innings ended on 161 in the 39th over.
Asif ended up with career-best figures of five for 25 from his 10 overs. Wasim played the perfect supporting act by taking three for 36 from his eight overs.
With an accessible target in their sights, the Pakistani openers provided a calm and composed 58-run partnership.
'As-if' his stint with the ball wasn't enough, Asif (38) bullied Zimbabwe with the bat as well during his 39-ball knock before being dismissed by Nyumbu (1-33).
Ahmed Shehzad (32) played a slow and steady 61-ball innings before getting stumped off the bowling of Williams (1-29).
Mohammad Hafeez (13) failed to make much of an impact as he was dismissed caught behind by Panyangara (1-22).
Asad Shafiq (38 not out) and Malik (34 not out) ensured no further damage and eased Pakistan home to a comfortable seven-wicket victory, thereby claiming the series 2-1.
Asif was presented with the man-of-the-match award for his all-round performance while Malik bagged the man-of-the-series award.
Despite the previous ODI being marred with controversy, this series displayed some nifty performances from players on both sides.
© Cricket World 2015