Despite a praiseworthy batting resistance, Zimbabwe, were outclassed by Pakistan in the 5th and final match of the ODI series.
Zimbabwe v Pakistan 5th ODI
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
The five matches played at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, within ten days, provided a stark difference between the two international sides. Pakistan, very much on the upward curve as far ICC rankings are concerned, faced Zimbabwe, hit so badly by the absence of its senior players, resulting in a one-sided bilateral series.
It was least surprising to see Sarfraz Ahmed, opting to bat first, on a chilly morning, with a forecast of a sunny afternoon. Fakhar Zaman’s run spree continued as Zimbabwe bowlers took another hammering against the left-handed opener. Often compared to a free flowing river and as one of the most exciting batsmen in world cricket at present, he has been an outstanding success for Pakistan.Today, when 15, his stumps were sprawled but only on a free hit but moments later at 08.42 GMT, he hit another boundary - a front-foot slash through point, to enter the record books. By reaching 1000 ODI runs in a mere 18 innings he overtook the 21-innings mark shared by five batsmen - Vivian Richards, Kevin Pieterson, Jonathan Trott, Quinton de Kock and his team mate Babar Azam. Not surprisingly all present at the ground stood up to applaud Fakhar’s achievement and the batsmen got a thumbs up from umpire Ian Gould as well.
Fakhar looked all set for yet another big innings when out caught behind attempting a cut of off spinner Liam Roche, on 85 off 83 balls. An opening stand of 168 runs in exactly 25 overs, coming to an end. After his return to the crease he was informed of a number of few more new batting landmarks to his name – 704 runs scored by an opening partnership in an ODI series, his aggregate of 515 runs is a new record in a bilateral ODI series consisting of 5 matches, 455 runs by a batsman between dismissed in an ODI. There is an old saying that records are meant to be broken but these three particular batting records are sure to last some time.
At the end of 20 overs, the opening stand had stretched to 127. Imam-ul-Haq, overshadowed by Fakhar Zaman in the last week or so, today outscored his opening partner, on a pitch a shade slower than one on Friday. He brought up his fifty of 45 balls and hundred off 97 balls, in recording 4th ODI ton in 9 innings of his short career. When dismissed, in the 38th over, for 110 off 105 balls with 8 fours and a six, he had laid the platform for a match winning total. A nephew of the great Inzamam-ul-Haq, now a chief selector, and one of the few cricketers who wear glasses, Imam is destined to carry that extra pressure, probably throughout his career.
Pakistan total of 364-4 owed much to slog over assault by their number 3 batsman, Babar Zaman, who due to the phenomenal run enjoyed by the opening pair of Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman, had spent most of the week in the pavilion, padded up. Today was his day and after settling down he displayed some eye pleasing range of strokes. Babar, an orthodox batsman with a much superior white ball record, led his team’s surge to set the opposition a stiff target. He brought up his 8th ODI in just 44 innings, after getting to the 50 mark off 55 balls, he only needed another 17 to reach the three-figure mark, on the first ball of the final over. A wonderful stats against his name with 50-over World Cup, less than a year away to be staged in the 2019 English summer.
Zimbabwe bowlers, at the receiving end of the punishment meted out by Pakistan batsmen, conceded 98 runs in the last 10 overs. A rare positive must not go unnoticed. Tall off spinner Lam Roache, never afraid to flight the ball, bowled the only maiden over of Pakistan’s innings. It is worth mentioning that the 11th over of the Pakistan innings and his first over of the day was bowled to non other than Fakhar Zaman, whom he also had the distinction of dismissing twice in the series.
Though the target was well out of their reach, Zimbabwe batsmen were happy to stay at the wicket without taking unnecessary risk and their final total of 233-4 was commendable, in the wake of crisis that they find themselves in. At the half stage of their innings with 25 overs bowled, the score had moved to 108 for 2, with the asking rate above 10 runs an over. Each of their six batsmen reached 25, with Ryan Murray (47) and Peter Moor (44 not out) standing out whilst defying Pakistan, who wrapped up the series with a thumping 131-run win and a five nil ‘brownwash’.
©Cricket World 2018