Pakistan posted exactly the same score that they had done in the first T20 against Zimbabwe, also batting first. And, for the second time in the series, they managed to defend the target, which is rather gettable in T20 cricket, thus winning the two-match series 2-0. The loss means Zimbabwe are yet to win an international T20 against Pakistan. Batting first after winning the toss, the visitors again disappointed, with only Umar Akmal (38 not out), and Sohaib Maqsood, with 26, showing some resistance. They were yet again bailed out by their bowlers, who combined to never allow Zimbabwe even a semblance of a chance.
After having faltered in what should have been an easy chase a couple of days back, Zimbabwe’s batsmen would have been hoping not to repeat their mistakes on this occasion. But, their batting effort was pretty much like a carbon copy as the previous game as Pakistan dominated proceedings. Sohail Tanvir got Chamu Chibhabha lbw in the third over. It was a lucky break for Pakistan since the ball was pitched outside leg, but the bowlers built the pressure from there. Hamilton Masakadza hit a six off Mohammad Irfan in the next over, but departed a couple of deliveries later as he hit one straight to third man.
Sean Ervine was run out courtesy a brilliant diving stop by Shahid Afridi at the cover, who was well backed up by the extra cover. Richmond Mutumbami was clueless against Imad Wasim and was bowled through the gate as he went for an extravagant drive – Zimbabwe 24 for 4, and again in deep trouble. Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams featured in a 60-run stand for the fifth wicket. But, it took too long coming. And, by the time Raza was bowled by Imran Khan for 36, going for a massive heave, the match was well out of the hosts’ grasp. Williams remained unbeaten on 40, but Zimbabwe went down by 15 runs.
Pakistan’s bowling once again rose to the challenge, with Irfan, Imran, Tanvir and Wasim all contributing. They needed it after another insipid batting performance. Pakistan was off to a steady start, reaching 24 in the 4th over when Ahmed Shehzad cut Tinashe Panyangara into the hands of point. Mohammad Hafeez also did not last long. On 17, he clipped Luke Jongwe straight to midwicket. Maqsood and Shoaib Malik combined well to hit a few boundaries between themselves when Malik perished to Graeme Cremer, looking to clear the field.
Just when Pakistan needed Maqsood to carry on, he also fell. Trying to loft Prosper Utseya over long on, he gave a simple catch and was back in the pavilion for 26. Mohammad Rizwan managed a run-a-ball 16. But, his dismissal left Pakistan in further trouble. If at all Pakistan managed to finish with a decent score, it was courtesy Akmal, who hit two fours and a six, and ran hard between the wickets to finish unbeaten on 38 from 28 balls. Against a weak Zimbabwe batting line-up, it was enough.
--By A Cricket Correspondent