By Jeff Murimbechi in Harare
Zimbabwe goes down 0-2 at Harare after Shehzad and Hafeez shine
The day began well for Zimbabwe when Brendan Taylor won the toss. But that was about all the success they would have for the next 20 overs as Pakistan dominated. The only blip on the radar for Pakistan was the fall of Nasir Jamshed, who gave Shingi Masakadza the charge in the final over of the PowerPlay, the sixth of the innings, to sky a catch to Elton Chigumbura. At 36 for 1 Pakistan had a lot of batting to follow, but the pair of Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez, the captain, would ensure that none of the others needed to make the trek out to the middle.
Shehzad was attacking without going berserk, reaching his 50 off a reasonably sedate 42 balls, with the help of four fours and three sixes. Hafeez, a good reader of the game, realised that he merely needed to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Hafeez did not really look to attack too much, but ran hard between the wickets to bring up his own half-century off only 36 balls. “It's important to be consistent I think so I've been trying very hard to achieve that and it's paid off,” said Shehzad soon after the game. “In the first six overs I didn't get much strike and I could easily have had a panic attack, but as soon as the captain came in that changed.”
Shehzad cut loose in the second half of his, and Pakistan’s innings, smacking the bowling around for 48 off the final 22 balls he faced, ending unbeaten on 98 from 64 balls, with six fours and as many sixes. Pakistan had reached 179 for 1, thanks to the unbroken second-wicket stand of 143, and it would take a special effort from Zimbabwe to get across the line.
Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza kept hopes up with an opening partnership of 50, but they had taken their time getting there, and when Hafeez broke through, getting rid of Sibanda, the complexion of the game changed. Taylor went cheaply and Hafeez then had three of the biggest guns to his credit when Masakadza (41) pulled one to midwicket.
Chigumbura, coming in at No. 5, swung hard and ably for a 19-ball unbeaten 35, but by then Pakistan had the game in the bag. Zimbabwe ended on 160 for 6, 20 runs short of their target, and Shehzad grinned from ear to ear as he received the Man of the Match and Player of the Series awards. In addition to his unbeaten 98 on the day, Shehzad had made 70 in the first T20I, also at Harare, on August 23.
“They got about 20 too many as our bowlers missed their mark a few too many times,” said Taylor, Zimbabwe’s captain. “They just outplayed us and they showed why they're a world-class team.”