Shoaib Malik played a spectacular fighting knock for Pakistan, which brought his side to the doorsteps of a famous comeback victory in the second ODI at Harare after, at one stage, it seemed a lost cause for the visitors. Unfortunately, bad light ended play in the 48th over of Pakistan’s innings. Malik was stranded on 96 from 106 balls, as Zimbabwe won the game by five runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rather bizarre fashion. Malik and Yasir Shah (32 not out) had added 63 in 6.1 overs, and needed 21 runs from the last two overs, with two wickets in hand when play was called off.
Malik resurrected Pakistan after they collapsed to 76 for 6 in the 22nd over. He first featured in a century stand with Aamer Yamin, who made a brisk 62 from 68 balls, slamming 5 fours and a 4 sixes. Malik who ended up hitting 8 fours and a six in his mature knock was then well supported by Yasir as well. But, luck wasn’t on their side. Earlier Tinashe Panyangara got Zimbabwe off to a brilliant start, sending back openers Bilal Asif and Azhar Ali for 0 and 1 respectively. Wickets kept falling for Pakistan, with Mohammad Hafeez being run out, and the middle-order crumbling.
Earlier, Zimbabwe’s batsmen finally fired to post an impressive total on the board. Put into bat after losing the toss, Zimbabwe made 276 for the loss of six wickets. Chamu Chibhabha roared back to form with 90 from 125 and was well supported by Elton Chigumbura, who contributed 67 from 55 balls. Chibhabha added 91 for the second wicket with Brian Chari (39) and 59 for the fourth wicket in Chigumbura. The Zimbabwe skipper and Sikandar Raza then featured in a 62-run stand, which came off 36 balls, as Zimbabwe ended their innings on a high.
Although there was grass on the pitch, the surface did not offer a lot of movement as expected. Zimbabwe made a conscious effort to improve their batting by sending in the experienced Hamilton Masakadza to open the innings. However, he struggled, and fell for 7 off 22, miscuing a bouncer from Wahab Riaz. Chibhabha though looked a lot more certain during his knock. He displayed excellent footwork and punished Aamer Yamin constantly. The introduction of Yasir slowed down things, but Chibhabha and Chari ensured that the scoreboard kept moving. Chari hit just one four in his innings but rotated the strike well.
The partnership ended when Chari edged Mohammad Irfan to Hafeez at slip for 39. Zimbabwe lost another big wicket when Sean Williams was sent back by Riaz for 10. Chibhabha began cramping towards the end of his innings and eventually missed out on his hundred, as Riaz claimed another wicket. Thankfully for Zimbabwe, Chigumbura found his groove immediately. He was hit on the helmet by Riaz but responded by smashing the bowler for a couple of sixes. With Raza also coming up with a nice cameo, Zimbabwe blasted nearly 100 runs in the last 10 overs of the innings.
--By A Cricket Correspondent