Pakistan edged past Zimbabwe to go 1-0 up in their three-match T20I series, with Mohammad Rizwan's 61-ball 82* helping set the foundations for victory.
Pakistan posted a total of 149/7, with Rizwan doing the bulk of the scoring. Zimbabwe's Craig Ervine, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Luke Jongwe gave the chase a go, but a middle-order implosion meant they fell short, ending on 138/7.
Pakistan were asked to bat, and the early wicket of Babar – he was dismissed cheaply by Blessing Muzarabani – left them at 8/1 in the second over. However, sloppiness in the field cost Zimbabwe, as Pakistan were reprieved despite their batsmen making errors.
Fakhar Zaman scored a run-a-ball 13 after coming on, but couldn't capitalise as Wesley Madhevere snared him. Pakistan’s middle-order underwhelmed too, with Mohammad Hafeez (5), Danish Aziz (15), Haider Ali (5), and Faheem Ashraf (1) all struggling to put on a partnership and revive the innings.
However, Rizwan, who had stood his ground as wickets fell at the other end, unleashed an assault in the death. He tonked Richard Ngarava for 20 runs in the final over, hitting three fours and a six. The assault gave Pakistan a total to defend.
The bowlers then took charge. Mohammad Hasnain struck twice in the third over, Wesley Madhevere was sent packing for 14 runs after he was caught by Babar Azam, and Tadiwanashe Marumani perished for a golden duck.
Kamunhukamwe and Ervine went about rebuilding the innings. The duo stitched together a 56-run stand, during the course of which Zimbabwe would have been hopeful of seeing through the chase. They boosted score to 77/2 in the 11th over, when Mohammad Hafeez put an end to the partnership – he had Kamunhukamwe (29) stumped by Rizwan.
That triggered an implosion. Usman Qadir, the wrist-spinner, snared three wickets in his middle-over spell, shifting the momentum in Pakistan’s favour. Ervine (34), Sean Williams (9), and Regis Chakabva (3) all fell in quick succession as Zimbabwe were reduced to 95/6 in the 14th.
Craig Ervine and Tinashe Kamunhukamwe have stabilised Zimbabwe after loss of early wickets.— ICC (@ICC) April 21, 2021
They are 73/2 after 10 overs, requiring 77 more to win.#ZIMvPAK | https://t.co/4S9OOPQkFu pic.twitter.com/1TdYj8TG8w
Ryan Burl and Jongwe revived the hosts' hopes with a 27-run stand, but a toe-crushing yorker by Haris Rauf uprooted the stumps to bowl Ryan for 14, leaving Jongwe alone to do the heavy lifting.
Zimbabwe required 20 runs off the final over to chase down the target, which was incidentally what Rizwan scored added in the final over of the Pakistan's innings. But the hosts fell short by 11 runs despite Jongwe's 23-ball 30*.
The second T20I will be played on Friday.
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!