Iftikhar Ahmed’s maiden five-wicket haul and Babar Azam’s fluent half-century helped Pakistan register a commanding win over Zimbabwe in Rawalpindi on Sunday. The green shirts are now 2-0 up in the series with one game to go.

After dismissing Zimbabwe for 206, captain Babar Azam scored an elegant 77 off 74 to ensure that Pakistan cruised to victory with fifteen overs to spare. Openers, Imam ul Haq and Abid Ali laid a strong foundation and cruised to 68 in the power play. Abid Ali went on 22 on a delivery which should have been deposited to the boundary. Imam fell one short of his half-century. Haider Ali, on his debut gave a good account of his talent and scored a sparkling 29 off 24.

He looked at ease and played his natural game and hit two sixes. Zimbabwe only hope to win the game was to get early wickets with the new ball which they failed to do so. The fast bowlers bowled short and wide and never looked to threaten the openers.

Ngarava went for 25 in his 4 overs, Blessing Muzarabani, the pick of the bowlers from the first game, went for 48 in his 8. In total, Zimbabwe pace bowlers went for 85 in their 13 overs. Tendai Chisoro was the only positive for the visitors with two wickets to his name.

Sikandar Raza picked up Haider Ali while Sean Williams dismissed Muhammad Rizwan. Despite pitch spinning bit, at no stage Pakistan’s batsmen looked unsettle. Before that, Chamu Chibahabha won the toss and elected to bat first. Shaheen Shah troubled the openers with his swing and pace. Muhammad Musa, on debut was impressive and picked up his first ODI wicket in his first over by dismissing Craig Ervine.

He troubled the batsmen with his pace and slippery deliveries and finished with 2 for 21 in 6 overs.After a slow start, Brendon Taylor and Sean Williams steadied the ship. The duo added 62 runs for the fourth wicket. Taylor, centurion from the first ODI looked in complete control and took the attack to Imad Wasim. Williams, looked a different player from Friday as he knitted a 75 ball 70.

His innings included ten fours and one six. Zimbabwe were looking good to post a decent total but Iftikhar had other ideas. Firstly, he broke the partnership by dismissing Taylor, who was looking to heave it over deep square. The talented Madhervere also got out early as Zimabwe slipped from 120-3 to 150-7.

Iftikhar sent Sean Williams and Chisoro back to the pavilion to complete his maiden five-wicket haul in ODI’s. Haris Rauf who was expensive in the first match also had a good outing. Shaheen came back in the death overs and bowled some superb yorkers but was unlucky to not get a wicket. All and all it was a good performance by an inexperienced Pakistani attack.

The author is a member of staff and heads the sports and business desks at The Correspondent. He mainly lives in the shadows as a ghost writer so you may have read his work and not even known it. He can be reached at asadqasim@thecorrespondent.pk


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