AUSTRALIA: The Zimbabwe skipper called the toss correctly and opted to bat first. The openers gave the team a solid start, but the remaining batsmen, except Sean Williams, crumbled as Pakistan bowlers made a solid comeback. In response, Pakistan batsmen faltered in the face of disciplined Zimbabwean bowling bravely defended 130 runs.
The openers, Craig Ervine (19 off 19 balls) and Wesley Madhevere (17 off 13 balls), gave their team a solid start, milking the Pakistan pace bowlers for runs on either side of the pitch. The batsmen attacked the bowlers right away as the duo amassed 42-runs for the first wicket in just five overs.
Ervine was the first wicket to fall. He was undone by the bounce and pace generated by Haris Rauf (12/1). He tried to pull a rising delivery, only to top-edge the ball to Mohammad Wasim at short fine.
Madhevere was trapped in front of the wickets three deliveries later by Mohammad Wasim (24/4). The bowlers found their rhythm after the powerplay overs and stemmed the flow of runs aided by the extra fielders outside the 30-yard circle.
The run rate dropped after the departure of the openers, and the mounting pressure got the better of Milton Sumba (8 odd 10 balls). Sumba wasn’t able to control his shot and ended up offering a return catch to Shadab Khan (23/3).
The Zimbabwean innings lost the early momentum and were 67/3 after ten overs. Sean Williams (31 off 28 balls) and Sikandar Raza (9 off 16 balls) hit a boundary each off the bowling of Naseem Shah (34/0) in an attempt to up the ante.
Pakistan bowlers, led by Shadab Khan, triggered a middle-order collapse as Zimbabwe lost four wickets in the space of six deliveries. Shadab castled Sean Williams and proceeded to have the new man in, Regis Chakabva, caught by Babar Azam in the very next delivery. Mohammad Wasim took two wickets off successive deliveries.
Sikandar Raza pulled a short delivery from Wasim straight to Haris Rauf. Luke Jongwe came in at number eight and was bowled off the very first delivery he faced. Brad Evans (19 off 15 balls) hit a six before being bowled by Wasim in the last over. Ryan Burl (10* off 15 balls) and Richard Ngarava (3* off 2 balls) took the Zimbabwean total to 130/8 in twenty overs.
Pakistan’s inning was off to a slow start as openers Mohammad Rizwan (14 off 16 runs) and Babar Azam (4 off 9 balls) were cautious early on. The 23-run opening partnership consumed 3.3 overs before the struggling Azam was caught by Ryan Burl off the bowling of Brad Evans. Rizwan hit a lucky six off Evans, a leading edge that flew over the wicket-keeper and over the boundary.
His luck, however, ran out when an attempted slice off Muzarabani (18/1) caught the inside edge of the bat and crashed onto the stumps. Zimbabwe bowlers kept tidy lines and lengths, choking the runs as Pakistan crawled to 28/2 at the end of the powerplay.
Luke Jongwe was introduced into the attack in the seventh over and struck immediately by dismissing Iftikhar Ahmed ( 5 off 10 balls). Iftikhar tried to help the ball down to the fine leg but inside-edged it to the keeper, who dived full length to his left to complete a fine catch.
Shan Masood (44 of 38 balls) joined forces with Shadab Khan (17 off 14 balls) and kept the scoreboard ticking with quick running between the wickets as boundaries were difficult to come by.
Sikandar Raza (25/3) struck twice in two deliveries, dismissing Shadab Khan and the new man in Haider Ali. Shadab had come down the track and hit the ball to Sean Williams at long-off. Haider Ali was caught by surprise as the ball beat the inside edge and caught him plumb in front of the wickets.
Raza struck again in his next over to have dangerous-looking Shan Masood stumped by the wicket-keeper. Raza fired the ball full, and down the leg-side, Masood tried to flick and overbalanced in the process, which allowed the keeper to whip the bails off. Ngarava (24/0), bowling the nineteenth over, conceded 11 runs, leaving Pakistan requiring 11 runs from the last over.
Mohammad Wasim (12* off 13 balls) and Mohammad Nawaz (22 off 18 balls) scored 8 runs off the first three deliveries of Brad Evans. Evans came back strongly to bowl a dot ball and then removed Nawaz, who mistimed a lofted hit straight to mid-off.
Shaheen Afridi (1 off 1 ball) was run out by Chakabva while attempting a non-existent second run off the last delivery to hand a one-run victory for Zimbabwe. Sikandar Raza was adjudged Player of the Match for his excellent bowling display, which decisively swung the match in Zimbabwe’s favour.