Akmal and bowlers help Pakistan whitewash Zimbabwe in the T20I series

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Pakistan whitewash Zimbabwe
Akmal and bowlers help Pakistan whitewash Zimbabwe in the T20I series. (© JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Akmal and bowlers help Pakistan whitewash Zimbabwe in the T20I series: The 2nd and final T20I match of the series presented Pakistan with the golden opportunity of winning as well whitewashing the Zimbabwean side in the T20I series. Pakistan didn’t disappoint its fans as well as they defeated the hosts by 15 runs and won the series. Pakistan continued its winning streak in T20I cricket and now they are unbeaten in the last 6 matches. The win also ensured third successive T20I series victory for Pakistan.

When Zimbabwe batters came out to chase 137 runs, they knew that they had the chance to level back-to-back T20I series in their den. They had recently drawn the T20I series against India as well. It was Sohail Tanvir who drew the first blood for his side as he got rid of Chamu Chibhabha though the batter was unlucky to be given out. In space of 11 balls, Zimbabwe lost the wickets of Masakadza and Ervine which mounted up pressure on the hosts. After that the left-arm spinner, Imad Wasim outsmarted Mutumbami when he was unable to read Wasim’s slider and played for the turn.

But then the pair of Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams provided stability to the side and steadied the innings. They added 60 runs for the 5th wicket. Raza became the victim of Imran Khan on 36 runs and left the crease with his side needing further 53 runs in 23 balls. Captain Chigumbura gave his side a ray of hope when he blasted back-to-back sixes of Imran Khan’s bowling in the 17th over. But he got out in the next over on the bowling of Irfan, when he tried to clear the long-on boundary. Though Williams was at the crease but he was left to pull off an improbable task as the hosts required 32 runs off the last two overs. In the end, Zimbabwe fell 15 runs short of the target.

Earlier, the Pakistan’s skipper Shahid Afridi had won the toss and chose to bat. The Zimbabwean’s fielded an unchanged side while the tourists made two changes in their playing XI. Mohammad Hafeez and Mohammad Irfan replaced Mukhtar Ahmed and Wahab Riaz in the side as both the players were rested.

The Pakistan openers Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad made a cautious start. The pitch was sluggish and the ball was not coming on to the bat as well as the Pakistani batsman would have liked. Shehzad was the first Pakistani wicket to fall and he was once again found guilty of playing a reckless shot. In Pakistan’s  inning, all the batters in the top six got off to decent starts but barring Umar Akmal none of them were able to convert it into something substantial for the side. Shehzad was the only batsman in the top six who couldn’t cross the single figure mark.

The comeback man, Mohammad Hafeez looked in magnificent touch but in the 7th over of the Pakistani innings, he became the first international victim of Luke Jongwe who scalped his first wicket in his 5th international appearance. It was a very soft dismissal. Malik, Maqsood and Rizwan all looked set but poor shot selection brought about their downfall. Shoaib Maqsood didn’t seem to learn his lessons from the previous match and again got out playing a sloppy shot.

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It was Umar Akmal’s 28 ball 38 run knock which powered the visitors to somewhat respectable total. Akmal looked resilient and was more than ready to put in the hard yard which was evident throughout his vigil at the crease. In the end, the hero of the 1st T20I, Imad Wasim played a useful cameo of 13 runs. Pakistan posted a total of 136 runs, the same total which they had posted in the 1st T20I match as well.

Overall it was a series which was characterized by Pakistan’s brilliant performance. Though their batters didn’t perform as well as they would have liked in the series but their bowling which has been their strength for decades once again helped them to come up with flying colours. While for Zimbabwe, it was repetition of the same old story once again. Their batting didn’t click throughout the series though their bowlers did a commendable job in restricting Pakistan to below par totals in the 2 matches of T20I series.

Brief Scores:

Pakistan – 136/6 (Akmal 36, Maqsood 26; Jongwe 2/24)

Zimbabwe – 121/7 (Williams 39, Raza 36; Irfan 2/25)

Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 15 runs.

Man-of-the-Match – Umar Akmal (Pak)

Man-of-the-Series – Imad Wasim (Pak)

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