Host wins first of two T20Is by five wickets on momentous night at the Gaddafi Stadium
Fans lined up for entry five hours before the start of the match at 7pm local time and fireworks opened the match with Pakistan president Mamnoon Hussain introduced to the teams.
And young Mukhtar Ahmed, in only his second T20I, lit up the stadium with some brilliant strokeplay to play the lead in Pakistan’s win to add to the festive mood.
Chasing 173, Pakistan had Mukhtar and Ahmed Shehzad putting together 142 runs for the first wicket, Mukhtar scoring a 45-ball 83 and Shehzad 55 in 39 balls, as Pakistan pulled off the win in 19.3 overs and took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Earlier, Elton Chigumbura hit eight boundaries and a six in his 35-ball 54 to lead Zimbabwe to a strong 172 for 6 after electing to bat.
Zimbabwe had gotten off to a flier with Hamilton Masakadza (43) and Vusi Sibanda (13) racing to 58 in 6.5 overs before Mohammad Sami, playing his first game for Pakistan in almost three years, sent back the two batsmen off successive deliveries.
Chigumbura then held the innings together with a rapid 42-run stand for the fifth wicket with Sikander Raza, before Sami dismissed Raza to finish with 3 for 36.
Mukhtar and Shehzad then gave Pakistan a rousing start. Mukhtar hit 12 fours and three sixes before he edged Graeme Cremer behind, while Shehzad made a 39-ball 55 with six boundaries and a six.
From 142 for no loss, Pakistan slipped to 169 for 5 as Zimbabwe came back into the game, but Shahid Afridi, who hit the winning boundary, and Sarfaraz Ahmed saw them home in a nervy finish.
The second T20I will be played on Sunday followed by three One-Day Internationals on May 26, 29 and 31 – all in Lahore.