Brisbane, March 1:
Despite a spirited fight by Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura (35), Pakistan managed their first World Cup Pool B win — by 20 runs — at the Gabba here Sunday.
After an extremely slow start, Pakistan managed to reach 235/7 thanks to Man-of-the-Match Wahab Riaz’s (54 not out) first One-Day International (ODI) half-century.
Zimbabwe looked well on course while chasing. But Pakistan’s pace bowling quartet, especially Riaz (4/45) and Mohammad Irfan (4/30), chipped away wickets at critical junctures to help the 1992 edition champions bowl Zimbabwe out for 215 with two balls to spare.
Zimbabwe needed the likes of Hamilton Masakadza (29), Brendan Taylor (50) and Sean Williams (33) to take them home but it was not to be.
Chasing a target of 236, Zimbabwe lost openers Chamu Chibhabha (9) and Sikandar Raza (8) early. But Masakadza and wicketkeeper Taylor, who scored his 31st ODI half-century, kept knocking around.
However, from a very comfortable 150/4, Zimbabwe lost four wickets in a span of 18 runs which turned the match in favour of Pakistan.
Skipper Chigumbura, however, looked like he would steer the Africans home with Tineshe Panyangara (10) by his side. They struck a crucial 47-run ninth-wicket partnership.
With 34 required from four overs and a steady partnership at hand, it looked like Zimbabwe will make it. But a special maiden over by birthday boy Shahid Afridi turned the tables as the score became 34 off 18.
Thereon, the Pakistani pacers bowled beautifully to snatch the game away. The Zimbabwean pair got out in the last over in a desperate dash to score.
Earlier, considering the slow start that Pakistan got after winning the toss, 235 was a competitive total on a slow Gabba wicket. Zimbabwe bowlers were brilliant to begin with.
They took two early wickets. Openers Nasir Jamshed (1) and Ahmed Shehzad (0) were bowled out with Pakistan tottering at 4/2.
Zimbabwe restricted Pakistan to 14/2 in 10 overs. Though Pakistan didn’t lose any wicket in the next five overs, they were not able to score freely.
They managed 33/2 at the end of the 15th over — the lowest 15-over total of this World Cup.
Things did not improve for Pakistan as they reached 127/5 in the 34th over. But a quick knock off 46 balls by Riaz towards the end of the innings helped Pakistan cross the 200-run mark.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was instrumental in playing the anchor’s innings. He scored a patient 73 from 121 balls.
Coming to the middle in the fourth over, he remained till the 47th over to compile his 40th half-century.
Though Pakistani batsmen kept getting out at the other end, Misbah was in the middle for three hours and 11 minutes.
Left-hander Haris Sohail (27), wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal (33) and Sohaib Maqsood (21) also played small cameos to take Pakistan past 200.
Zimbabwe bowler Tendai Chatara’s figures read 10-2-35-3. He would have bagged a couple of more wickets had the fielders not dropped some sitters at the fag end of the innings.
Left-arm spinner Sean Williams (2/48) picked up a couple of wickets while Tawanda Mupariwa (1/36) clinched one. Tinashe Panyangara was economical at the start but was hit for runs in the death overs.
Brief scores: Pakistan 235/7 in 50 overs (Misbah ul Haq 73, Wahab Riaz 54 not out, Umar Akmal 33; Tendai Chatara 3/35, Sean Williams 2/48) vs Zimbabwe 215 all out in 49.4 overs (Brendan Taylor 50, Elton Chigumbura 35, Sean Williams 33; Mohammed Irfan 4/40, Wahab Riaz 4/45). Pakistan win by 20 runs. IANS