After the first 2 disappointing games in Cricket World Cup 2015, Pakistan registered their first win that too against Zimbabwe in a close match.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers put up an impressive performance to restrict Pakistan to a below par total. Misbah-ul-Haq held the innings together, and Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz played quickfire knocks to lift Pakistan’s sagging spirits to some extent. It was Tendai Chatara and Tinashe Panyangara, who bowled with great disciplines to leave Pakistan wobbling at 14 for 2 after the completion of 10 overs.
On expected lines, both the pacers extracted movement in the air and off the deck at the Gabba to trouble the batsmen. Chatara was duly rewarded for his metronomic control upfront with two wickets. Tawanda Mupariwa too bowled well. Sean Williams, the slow left-arm orthodox, followed it up by taking a couple of crucial wickets to put Zimbabwe in the ascendancy.
Earlier, Pakistan’s opener, Nasir Jamshed continued to struggle for runs as he was dismissed after scoring just one run. Jamshed has amassed just 58 runs in the last eight ODIs he has played. Ahmed Shehzad followed him back to the pavilion as he lost his wicket to Chatara. It was a gem of a delivery that straightened off the deck to take the edge of Shehzad’s bat and Brendan Taylor took an easy catch behind the stumps. Misbah and Haris Sohail tried to resurrect Pakistan’s fortunes.
But after stitching a 50-run partnership, Haris hit it straight to Sean Williams off Sikandar Raza’s bowling and with a forlorn look on his face, took a long walk back to the pavilion. Haris also played out a lot of dot deliveries and that didn’t help Pakistan’s cause. Akmal played a few eye-catching shots, but Williams produced a wonderful spell to take the key wickets of both Akmal and Shahid Afridi and check Pakistan’s progress.
In fact, it was a cracking delivery bowled by Williams to Afridi as it spun sharply to beat the outside edge and castle Afridi. With wickets falling at the other end, Misbah looked to be the glue of Pakistan’s innings and composed a fine fifty. In the slog overs, Riaz with his pyrotechnics, smashed a flurry of boundaries to help Pakistan to end up with a decent total on the board.
Mohammad Irfan produced a wonderful spell of aggressive fast bowling to take four wickets and help Pakistan win a keenly contested game against Zimbabwe. It was their first win in this World Cup. The 7’1” towering giant, Irfan, bowled with venomous pace and extracted awkward bounce to trouble Zimbabwe’s batsmen. Chamu Chibhabha, Sikandar Raza and Solomon Mire were all dismissed on the back of steep bounce extracted by Irfan. He also took the important wicket of Hamilton Masakadza. Wahab Riaz gave Irfan good support by taking four wickets as well.
For a brief period, Brendan Taylor raised Zimbabwe’s hopes of chasing down the target. Taylor showed the ability to play shots in a 360-degree arc. He even ramped a short ball from Riaz over the wicket-keeper for a cheeky boundary. But once he and Sean Williams were dismissed, Zimbabwe lost wickets in a heap. Elton Chigumbura, who suffered a suspected muscle tear while fielding, came out to bat, and played a few fine shots and took Zimbabwe closer to a win, but in the end, they couldn’t cross the finishing line.
In the end, Pakistan managed to narrowly avoid a possible and a very humiliating loss against the minions like Zimbabwe.
Pakistan 235 for 7 in 50 overs
Zimbabwe 215 for 10 in 49.5 overs