Pakistan won by 26 runs against Zimbabwe in the series-opening one-day international being played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday. Pakistan lead the three-match ODI series 1-0.
Zimbabwe were all out for 255 runs with two balls remaining. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz starred among bowlers as they picked five and four wickets respectively. All-rounder Imad Wasim also took one wicket.
The tourists, in their chase of a 282-run target set by Pakistan, got off to a shaky start when Afridi bowled opener Brian Chari (2) on the third ball of the innings.
Despite a remarkable century by Brendan Taylor, who scored 112 off 116 balls and hit 11 boundaries and thre sixes, Zimbabwe could not recover from the onslaught of Pakistani bowlers.
Craig Ervine (41) and Wesley Madhevere (52) also stood out amongst Zimbabwe’s batsmen.
After winning the toss, the Green Shirts ended their innings with 281 runs at the loss of eight wickets in their allotted 50 overs.
Abid Ali was the first to be sent back to the pavilion in the middle of the tenth over after scoring 21 runs. He was followed by Babar Azam and Imamul Haq who scored 19 and 58 runs, respectively. The next casualty was Mohammad Rizwan who fell in the 37th over after scoring a meagre 14 and was followed by Iftikhar Ahmed (12) in the 41st over.
With six fours and two sixes, Haris Sohail tried to stabilise the team scoring 71 off 82 balls but he fell to Sikandar Raza in the 42nd over.
Earlier, captain Babar Azam had won the toss and elected to bat.
Both teams are opening their World Cup Super League campaigns after the International Cricket Council introduced the competition to bring context to ODI cricket.
The top seven teams in the league will directly qualify for the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India. The league features 13 countries playing four three-match ODI series (home and away).
Babar, who leads Pakistan in Twenty20s, will be captaining for the first time in the ODI format. He was appointed ODI captain during the lockdown for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pakistan gave an ODI debut to fast bowler Haris Rauf, who received his cap from bowling coach Waqar Younis before the toss.
The home team has packed its playing XI with four fast bowlers, with allrounder Faheem Ashraf getting a nod ahead of uncapped leg-spinner Usman Qadir.
Zimbabwe, led by Chamu Chibhabha, left out experienced batsman Elton Chigumubura for the first match of the three-match series. Fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani returned to ODI format after nearly two years.
The Zimbabwe series, which also features three Twenty20 Internationals at the same venue, is the beginning of a busy season for Pakistan who are also slated to host England and South Africa.
Yesterday, during a pre-series press conference, Babar said the hosts won’t underestimate low-ranked Zimbabwe, against whom Pakistan have won 52 of the 59 matches in this format.
“Our aim is not only to win the one-day series but also the T20 games [against Zimbabwe] because we want to build confidence for matches against stronger teams which Pakistan will play in the coming months,” Babar said. “But having said that we can’t take Zimbabwe easy and my message to our players is to give 110 per cent because we are targeting a whitewash to ensure Pakistan earn maximum points in the Super League. Every match counts since each point matters.”
Chibhabha, meanwhile, admitted that his side is desperately looking to get to winning ways after failing to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in England and said Zimbabwe would adopt an aggressive approach in batting to combat the threat of Pakistan bowlers such as Shaheen Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz.
“Unless we are able to dominate the [Pakistan] bowling, there is no chance for Zimbabwe to win matches. I promise we are going to play good cricket and are not here just to compete,” Chibhabha vowed. “We have been a side which struggles in finishing matches. But there is more desperation on our part to win and win consistently. And considering these are Super League matches, each game becomes very crucial for both teams.”