Pakistan still the favourite, but Zimbabwe’s performance with bat and ball in second ODI has set up an intriguing contest
With the three-match One-Day International series between Zimbabwe and Pakistan level at 1-1, the final game, scheduled for Monday (October 5), is bound to attract packed stands at the Harare Sports Club.
After going down by a massive 131-run margin in the first ODI, Zimbabwe made a comeback in the second game on Saturday, squeezing out a win in a dramatic contest that was eventually decided by the Duckworth/Lewis method after bad light forced the umpires to take the players off the field with all results possible.
Shoaib Malik, who was left stranded on 96 after having hauled Pakistan from 76 for 6 to 256 for 8 while chasing 277 for victory, was disappointed with the game ending early, with Pakistan needing 21 more runs to win in two overs with two wickets in hand at that stage.
Zimbabwe, though, will be proud of its all-round performance in the match, with Chamu Chibhabha and Elton Chigumbura hitting half-centuries against a bowling attack they had no answers to in the first encounter. Yasir Shah, who bagged career-best figures of 6 for 26 in that game, was tackled with caution by the Zimbabwe batsmen in the second ODI, leaving the leg-spinner wicketless in a six-over spell. Wahab Riaz, however, was among the wickets, but the overall batting was a marked improvement.
In the bowling department, almost all the bowlers – Tinashe Panyangara, Luke Jongwe, Chibhabha, Chigumbura and Graeme Cremer – chipped in with wickets to keep the pressure on Pakistan.
The Pakistan players, hurting from the defeat, would be looking to avenge the loss when they take the field for the final ODI, and Zimbabwe, too, will be desperate to clinch a rare series win. And that could make for a great contest.
Earlier, the Shahid Afridi-led Pakistan side had swept the Twenty20 International series 2-0.
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza Butt, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Immad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Shafiq.