Even as the celebrations of the return of international cricket to the nation were intensified after the white wash of the T20 series against the guests, Pakistan have beaten them once again in the first One-Day match of the ongoing ODI series between the two nations. Zimbabwe who have been touring Pakistan after 6 years of exile from international cricket, have not had the best start to the tour and would like to improve on the outcome of the games and work harder.
Pakistan won the toss on a warm day at Lahore and chose to bat. The Pakistan team had a balanced look to it with experienced players playing alongside some young players trying to make a mark on the national front.
Zimbabwe on the other hand had a settled line up and is looking to make an impact on the tour with their first victory in an international match since touring the nation amidst security concerns.
Pakistan made a steady start with not losing single wicket in the powerplay and were scoring at 4.7 runs an over for the first 10 overs. Azhar Ali was the first to perish in the hands of Utseya after an opening stand of 170 runs. Soon after, Hafeez his partner also lost his wicket after adding 4 runs to the score to the same bowler.
However, Shoaib Malik the experienced batsman came in at number 3 along with Harris Sohail who shown that he could bat added on 201 runs in 137 balls to take the Pakistan score past the 350 mark and set a target of 375 in 50 over’s. Malik lost his wicket on the last ball of the innings.
Zimbabwe who could have put more pressure on the Pakistan side let them off the hook with some ordinary fielding and some dropped catches and have now found themselves in a spot of bother chasing more than 7 runs per over for the whole 50 overs.
Zimbabwe who had to score more than 7 runs an over right from the beginning started well adding more than what the Pakistan pair in their power play. However they lost a wicket in the 10th over that of Sikinder Raza who looked settled for his 36 before popping a catch back to Wahab Riaz.
His partner Sibanda also lost his wicket not long after the first and at this time at 65-2, Zimbabwe looked a bit in trouble.
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However the experienced pair of Masakadza and Chigumbura steadied the ship with a 124 run partnership at more than run a ball.
However, Masakadza lost his wicket in the 33rd over to Shoaib Malik who had a dream game back in Pakistan. With 187 runs still needed of 17 over’s, Zimbabwe needed a quick move on and took the batting power play hoping to up the run rate.
Now Chigumbura was joined by Williams in the centre and the two eased through the batting power play scoring at 8 runs per over without losing any wicket. However that high target set by Pakistan meant Zimbabwe still had to 136 runs in the last 10 over’s with 7 wickets in hand.
Wahab Riaz then picked up Williams for a quick 38 but Chigumbura was not ready to go down without a fight. He scored his maiden ODI hundred and scored 22 runs off one over of Sami but lost his wicket to the same bowler after a couple of over’s which more or less finished the match as a contest.
Shoaib Malik for his magnificent century was given the Man of the Match award.
The fact that Zimbabwe reached to 334 with the loss of only 5 wickets and with almost all the players chipping in with contributions shows that the team has grown in confidence and if this game is to go by, the next two games may be close encounters.