Apart from the one Super Over win the 3rd ODI against Pakistan, Zimbabwe haven’t been able to register another win in the ongoing limited-overs tour. Despite walking into the 3-match T20I series with a winning momentum from their Super Over win, Zimbabwe couldn’t help channel it into the 1st T20I in Rawalpindi.
With the help of Babar Azam’s 82 off 55, Pakistan had registered a 6-wicket win (with 7 balls remaining) in the 1st T20I against Zimbabwe, on Saturday, November 7.
On Sunday, hosts Pakistan registered an even bigger win with an 8-wicket victory and 29 balls remaining. Zimbabwe could manage a score of only 134/7 in their 20 overs and Pakistan successfully chased it down in 15.1 overs with half-centuries from the 20-year-old Haider Ali and captain Babar Azam.
Having won the toss, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Pakistan asked Zimbabwe to bat first. An underfire Brendan Taylor (3 off 6) was once again dismissed early with up and coming fast bowler Haris Rauf striking in the 2nd over. But that wasn’t the only wicket to fall in the Powerplay as captain Chamu Chibhaba and seasoned batsman Sean Williams both were dismissed in the 4th and 5th overs, respectively, leaving Zimbabwe on 45/3 at the end of the 6 overs.
There was still room for recovery with Wesley Madhevere, with an unbeaten 70 (off 48) in the 1st T20I, stepping up for Zimbabwe. But legspinner Usman Qadir had different plans as he removed Madhevere (24 off 22) in the 10th over. Following that, there was no more spark in Zimbabwe’s batting despite southpaw Ryan Burl (32 off 22) remaining unbeaten at the end of 20 overs, with the visitors managing a total of 134/7. Rauf and Qadir both bagged 3 wickets each at the end of the first innings.
Haider Ali, Babar pull of a comfortable chase
Chasing 135, Pakistan faced their first hiccup in the form of Fakhar Zaman falling to Blessing Muzarabani in the 3rd over. However, there was no more looking back for the hosts as captain Babar Azam was once again in a sublime form. Babar (51 off 28) formed a 2nd wicket partnership of 100 runs, before falling to Muzarabani in the 13th over, with the 20-year-old Haider Ali. The latter remained unbeaten on 66 off 43 as Pakistan won the game in the 16th over with 8 wickets to spare.
In the 3rd ODI, Haider Ali had been dismissed for only 13 off 9 while Pakistan were chasing 279. Then once again, Ali could only manage 7 off 8 in the 1st T20I. PCB’s former chief selector and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-Ul-Haq had urged Ali to play more sensibly. After Sunday’s match-winning performance of an unbeaten 43-ball 66, the 20-year-old has shown what he is capable of.
Meanwhile, former Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura will play his last international match on Tuesday, November 10. The 3rd and final T20I, which would be a dead rubber, is scheduled to be held at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
Chigumbura, 34, announced his plan of retirement on November 7, Saturday, ahead of the 1st T20I in which scored a 13-ball 21. Zimbabwe have lost the T20I series but would want to send off Chigumbura, a stalwart of Zimbabwean cricket, on a winning note.