Zimbabwe drubbing secures series for Pakistan

It was almost as if Pakistan just had to turn up. With Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali rested, a second-string bowling line-up, put together to basically ease Junaid Khan and Yasir Shah back into the ODI set up, bulldozed through Zimbabwe on a spicy wicket in the third ODI at the Queens Sports Club, bowling the hosts out for 67 in only 25.1 overs, their lowest total against Pakistan.

Faheem Ashraf, the all-rounder who was without a wicket in the second ODI, starred with a maiden five-wicket haul that all but extinguished the middle-order, inflicting on Zimbabwe their lowest ODI score in Bulawayo. Ashraf was backing up an excellent start provided by Usman Khan and Junaid Khan, the latter having last played an ODI in October 2017 and returning to the format as if he’s been at it forever, evidenced by the wickets of Hamilton Masakadza and Tarisai Musakanda.

All Zimbabwe had in return were sorry strokes, brought into effect by brains fogged from the incessant political chaos and a peppery pitch alike. While Masakadza gave his wicket away with a half-hearted chip-drive to mid-off, Musakanda’s wicket off a top-edged pull shot affirmed Junaid’s extra pace on offer, something Pakistan can do with on a regular basis. Opener Prince Masvaure’s debut lasted seven balls, and his nervous slash at a short and wide delivery handed Usman his only wicket of the day.

Yasir Shah’s first ODI in about two years saw him pick a wicket, his case helped in part by Tendai Chisoro’s intention to sweep a leg-stump delivery in vain. That said, Shah was tight with his lines and lengths, conceding only 10 runs in the seven overs he bowled.

Ashraf struck in his first three overs, admittedly on a wicket that had a bit in it for the seamers. Peter Moor got a delivery that exploded from a length to take the edge while Chamu Chibhabha fell to a nip-backer, erring in playing across the line in sheer lack of judgement. Pakistan, too, got a taste of the pitch later when they lost Imam-ul-Haq to lifting snorter from Blessing Muzarabani off the first ball of the chase.

Fakhar Zaman was hit on the helmet grille by Richard Ngarava and needed some medical attention before he could get back up. The opener was also dropped on 2 by the captain, when he edged a drive to offer a tough chance at widish slip. That behind, Babar Azam and Zaman took the chase by its reins and steered Pakistan home with 40.1 overs to spare.

Zimbabwe’s only win of the day, unfortunately, came in the form of a dogged resistance put up by Wellington Masakadza and Blessing Muzarabani for the ninth wicket. The partnership spanned only as little as 12 runs but its USP lay in its time span of 7.1 overs, something no other partnership managed on the day. That aside, it was Pakistan running Zimbabwe ragged and taking an assailable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series.

Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 67 in 25.1 overs (Chamu Chibhabha 16; Faheem Ashraf 5-22) lost to Pakistan 69/1 in 9.5 overs (Fakhar Zaman 43*, Babar Azam 19*; Blessing Muzarabani 1-43) by 9 wickets.

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