Pakistan Hold Nerve To Clinch A Tight Game Against Zimbabwe
Pakistan 176-8 (Mukhtar 62) beat
Zimbabwe 175-3 (Williams 58) by two wickets
Second Twenty20 International in Lahore
Mukhtar Ahmed scored a second successive half century to ensure Pakistan chased down a stiff target of 176 in the last over to win both games of the two match Twenty20 International series against Zimbabwe at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to bat first. The openers gave the team a rock solid start, Vusi Sibanda (49) crunching a drive through covers in the second ball of the game.
Hamilton Masakadza (39) got the game moving with three consecutive fours off the third over by Bilawal Bhatti (0-31).
Mohammad Sami (1-38) who made a fabulous comeback for Pakistan in the previous game was hit for a massive six down the ground by Masakadza.
The batsman followed it up with another four down the ground off debutant Imad Wasim (0-14).
A nine-ball sixth over from Bhatti went for 11 runs with Zimbabwe reaching 50 for no loss at the end of the six power-play overs.
Just when the openers were looking to stamp their authority, Shoaib Malik (1-23), who was at one point the stand-in captain after Shahid Afridi (1-36) split his webbing, got the breakthrough in his very first over.
Masakdza threw his wicket away yet again holing out to long-on.
Afridi’s next over witnessed an onfield collision between Malik and Sami. Later in the over, Sean Williams (58 not out) got going with successive fours, taking Zimbabwe to 83 for one after 10 overs.
Williams elegantly manufactured a few more fours off Anwar Ali (0-31) and Malik’s overs to take Zimbabwe to 125 for one after 15 overs, even as Malik finished his spell at less than six per over.
While Bhatti bowled a tight over in the 16th, Afridi gave away 12 runs in the 17th.
He picked up the wicket of Sibanda who found deep midwicket and missed out on a half-century by a run.
The same over, Williams slog swept a six over deep midwicket to bring up his own fifty in just 26 balls.
The next over from Sami was huge as Elton Chigumbura (21) hammered three successive sixes, two over covers and one over long on, to garner 20 runs and take Zimbabwe to 164 for two after 18 overs.
They didn’t get the right hurrah as Afridi gave away just four runs in the 19th and Sami came back very well to give away just seven runs while also ending Chigumbura’s nine ball cameo.
Zimbabwe reached 175 for three in their 20 overs. Malik was easily the pick of Pakistan bowlers.
For Pakistan, hero of the previous game, Mukhtar (62) started on fire yet again, getting three fours, one of them from an edge, off the second over.
Chris Mpofu (2-25) went for 14 in his second over, as Mukhtar was dropped by Williams at backward point, the ball bursting through to reach the boundary.
Even though Pakistan looked good at 44 in the fifth over, Brian Vitori (1-36) picked Ahmed Shehzad (18) who spliced a pull to mid-off.
Pakistan managed 47 for one at the end of the power-play.
However, the next two overs went for 33 runs, teenager Nauman Anwar (18) getting two fours and a six and Mukhtar getting couple of fours.
Anwar’s 10 ball cameo ended prematurely as Prosper Utseya (1-31) got fortunate with a bad ball smashed straight to long on.
Pakistan were being led in the chase nicely by Mukhtar yet again, reaching 92 for two after 10 overs.
However, Malik (7) was run out by a sharp piece of fielding by Utseya off his own bowling.
Mukhtar reached a second successive fifty in the series with a slash to backward point off Sikandar Raza (1-19).
Zimbabwe had more reason to feel disappointed as they let a chance for a double strike go begging, as Mpofu dropped a routine catch to give a life to Umar Akmal (30) when he was on three.
Raza bowling the next over, got Mukhtar finally off a tossed up delivery that was hit straight to long on.
Afridi (7) hit a six the second ball he faced off Williams before trying to repeat it the next ball and mistiming it to be caught down the ground at the edge of the circle.
Akmal hit a six the next ball to take Pakistan to 139 for five, requiring 37 off 30 balls.
The game took another turn as Mpofu came back from being hit for a six to trap Akmal lbw.
Williams gave away just six and breached the defence of Anwar (2) and the wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan (6) was out next over thanks to an excellent catch from Raza at deep midwicket.
Pakistan had 12 runs to get off the last six balls. Bhatti (13 not out) though got a crucial six off the first ball and then finished the game with a four to take Pakistan home with two balls to spare.
The win allowed Pakistan to take the two match series 2-0.
© Cricket World 2015