Pakistan got off to a winning start in the opening match of T20I Tri-series after beating Zimbabwe by 74 runs in Harare on Sunday. Fakhar Zaman’s 61 along with Asif Ali’s quickfire 41 propelled Pakistan to a challenging 182/4. In reply, the home team failed to secure a good start and could only muster 108 as Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Khan and Hasan Ali picked two wickets apiece to end Zimbabwe’s innings in 17.5 overs. For his exploits with the bat, Asif Ali was awarded the man of the match.
After being put into bat first, Pakistan lost Mohammad Hafeez at the end of the second over and then Hussain Talat departed early too. But opener Fakhar Zaman stood strong at the other end and took on the Zimbabwe bowling line up to score a 40-ball 61.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed did get a start but failed to capitalise. He was undone by Tendai Chisoro, courtesy of a soft dismissal when Sarfraz tried to play a delivery from the spinner towards the on-side but it hit the leading edge to give a sitter to Musakanda. Sarfraz’s departure didn’t really affect the scoring rate as Zaman was joined by Shoaib Malik who eventually scored 37* in 24 balls.
But it was Asif Ali’s later surge that made all the difference. The right-hander scored 41 off 21 balls and hammered four maximums and a boundary in his brief stay at the crease.
In reply, Zimbabwe picked early wickets and were soon reduced to 88/5. The only resistance came through Musakanda (43 in 35 balls) but it wasn’t enough to take his team over the line.
Only three Zimbabwean batsmen got to double digits as the Pakistan bowling line up once again showed their accuracy. The only department concerning the skipper would be their fielding as his side were sloppy on occasions. Pakistan will face Australia on Monday.
In the post-match presentation, Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza admitted that his side gave away 20 runs extra and said, “Only bright point was winning the toss. I think we gave them 20 runs extra. We started ok but we lost our way in the middle period. Our batting order was fine, we need to work on the execution part. We don’t need to make changes in the team yet, we need to apply better at the top of the order,” Masakadza said.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed hailed the efforts of his batsmen and said, “First match of the series is really important. Fakhar Zaman played really well at the top and Shoaib Malik and Asif finished the innings well. It looked like a really good wicket. There was some movement initially but later on it became an excellent track to bat on. We were little bit lethargic in the field but our bowling was exceptional, specially Nawaz. Plenty of cricket still to be played in this series,” he said.