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30-Oct-2020 16:12:00 GMT
Pak v Zim - 1st ODI, Rawalpindi

Shaheen, Riaz star in Pakistan hard-fought win

Pakistan 281 for 8 (Sohail 71, Imam-ul-Haq 58, Chisoro 2-31, Muzarabani2-39) beat Zimbabwe 255 (Taylor 112, Madhevere 55, Afridi 5-49, Wahab 4-41) by 26 runs

Rawalpindi: Pakistan withstood a stunning fightback led by Brendan Taylor to hang on for a thrilling win in the first ODI against Zimbabwe at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Shaheen Afridi was the architect of the victory, carving chunks out of the Zimbabwean batting line-up when the others appeared to have run out of ideas, and finishing with yet another five-wicket haul, while Wahab Riaz chipped in with four wickets to stop the visiting sides 26 short.

Zimbabwe were bowled out for 255, and in a game of fine margins, Pakistan's wagging tail earlier on made all the difference.

Set 282 to win, Zimbabwe looked to have a structured sense of pacing the chase, going hard in the powerplay at debutant Haris Rauf, undeterred by the loss of Brain Chari in the first over.

While Afridi, who was tremendous throughout the innings whenever called upon, gave them little to attack, some loose deliveries from the other end were all they needed, and Chamu Chibhabha, followed by Craig Ervine and Taylor, made the most of the fielding restrictions, speeding to 56 in the powerplay.

It was well over what Pakistan had managed, and set Zimbabwe the base from which they moulded their chase.

While Taylor looked comfortable for much of the innings, Ervine found himself flustered by Pakistan's tightness in the middle overs, and a rash reverse sweep spelt the end of him.

Sean Williams never looked up to the mark on the day, meaning 20-year-old Madhevere was tasked with being the support act for Taylor.

Earlier, left-handers Haris Sohail and Imam-ul-Haq hit half centuries against some tight Zimbabwe bowling to help Pakistan post 281-8.

Sohail scored an attractive 71 from 82 balls while Imam made 58 after Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat on a slow pitch.

Once opener Abid Ali departed for 21, Pakistan had high hopes with new captain Babar Azam, regarded as one of world's best batsmen in limited overs cricket.

But his debut as ODI skipper ended early after a clumsy looking shot off pacer Blessing Muzarabani for 19.

Imam and Sohail took Pakistan past 100 and looked set for a big partnership until disaster struck, with both batsmen out at the same end while taking a sharp single.

Imam's knock had six hits to the boundary. Sohail, who hit two sixes and six boundaries, pulled his leg muscle and needed treatment on the ground.

Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf added a quickfire 42 in their late partnership and Pakistan made 48 in the last five overs.

Zimbabwe's spinners controlled the pace, with left-arm slow bowler Tendai Chisoro taking 2-31.

The series is part of the 13-team Super League which determines qualifiers for the next World Cup in 2023.

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