Pakistan knocked Zimbabwe out of the Twenty20 tri-series in Harare in a closely-fought encounter on Wednesday, beating the hosts by seven wickets with five deliveries left.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed saw his side home with an unbeaten 38, meaning that Zimbabwean allrounder Solomon Mire’s efforts earlier in the game went in absolute vain.
Mire struck 94, with the help of six boundaries and six sixes, the highest score by a Zimbabwean in a Twenty20 international, but Zimbabwe’s 162 for 4 was not enough to win over the world’s top-ranked T20I side.
Zimbabwe, who are ranked No 12, never got its chase going and lost wickets at regular intervals leading to the defeat.
Pakistan’s chase was given a rapid start by the openers.
Haris Sohail and Fakhar Zaman took 56 from the Powerplay, but Sohail holed out soon afterwards.
When Zaman skied Mire to depart for 47, Pakistan needed more than eight runs an over from the last eight overs, but Ahmed’s innings of calm precision kept the game interesting till the very end.
With four runs needed from the final over, it was also the shot he used to end the game, gliding seamer Chris Mpofu straight to the third man boundary.
“The only bright point was winning the toss,” Zimbabwe's captain Hamilton Masakadza said.
“They had a good Powerplay and put us under pressure and I thought we gave them 20 runs extra.”,he added when asked what worked out well for Pakistan.
Initially, Zimbabwe bowlers seemed to have controlled Pakistan's strong batting lineup in the first half of the innings when the visitors scored 78-3 in 10 overs.
But Zaman and Malik (37 not out) accelerated with a 44-run fourth-wicket stand before Asif's clean hitting allowed Pakistan to score 62 runs off the last 32 balls.
Chasing the target of 163 runs, openers Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail provided Pakistan with a good chance to win with an opening stand of 58 runs.
For Pakistan, pacers Mohammad Amir, Faheem Ashraf, Talat and leg-spinner Shadab Khan bagged one wicket each.
In the previous encounter between the two sides, Pakistan thumped Zimbabwe by 74 runs courtesy brilliant performances from left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman and young Asif Ali.
Pakistan will face Australia this Sunday, July 8 to decide the series’ winner.