Zimbabwe vs. Pakistan: Winners and Losers from 1st T20
It wasn’t the most exciting of Twenty20s, but Pakistan managed to ensure they won’t lose the series with a comfortable 25-run win over Zimbabwe in the opening match at Harare.
The tourists surprisingly omitted Zulfiqar Babar from the playing XI despite the left-arm spinner taking home the Man-of-the-Series award in the T20s against the West Indies. But Shahid Afridi continued his opening match heroics with bat and ball after Ahmed Shehzad had laid the foundations of a healthy total.
Here we list players who gained something from the match and ones that wished they had not turned up
Shahid Afridi: Winner
Afridi was omitted from Pakistan’s Champions Trophy squad on the back of a poor show earlier in the year.
He wasn’t, however, kept out for long, and his comeback comprised a 55-ball 76 and a career-best seven-wicket haul in the West Indies that showed the all-rounder still had the hunger.
Friday, Afridi, not his typical aggressive self, started off by ensuring Pakistan reached a competitive total after being bogged down earlier in the innings. Singles, doubles and a couple of boundaries formed Afridi’s innings, but with a long, inexperienced tail, the former captain did just about enough to take Pakistan to respectability.
And he returned with the ball to take three wickets, deceiving the opposition with his pace and bounce—lack of, at times. With just 25 runs off his quota, he did enough to slow down the hosts and ensure the target remained a hope rather than an aim.
Elton Chigumbura: Loser
A senior member of the squad, Elton Chigumbura was due to play a pivotal role in the side with bat and ball.
His wayward line and questionable length allowed Pakistan to break the shackles—17 came off his first over as debutant Sohaib Maqsood and opener Ahmed Shehzad broke loose. He did dismiss Maqsood in his second and final over, but with 13 more off that over, Pakistan had their eyes on a competitive total, which was looking difficult earlier in the day.
Chigumbura also failed with the bat, managing just six off five deliveries before having his stumps flattened, although he wouldn’t have liked coming in at No. 6 with not much left to play for in the chase.
Ahmed Shehzad: Winner
The young opener showed sparks of brilliance that have forced the selectors and team management to persist with him at the top of the order.
Shehzad made his comeback on the tour of the West Indies and looked solid and steady at the top. He found his rhythm from the first delivery Friday, a back-foot punch through the covers. Innovation followed later as he paddle swept, pulled and drove with ease and dexterity.
He lost Nasir Jamshed early on, and captain Mohammad Hafeez did not stay in the middle for too long either. But Shehzad ensured the scoreboard kept moving with singles and doubles as well as the scattered boundaries—seven in total—and managed to take home the Man-of-the-Match award.
Zimbabwe’s Erring Line: Loser
Seven wides in the opening seven overs would not have impressed the Zimbabwe coach.
Pakistan batsmen were getting their feet in—two of them had already perished—and boundaries were hard to come by. Prosper Utseya had managed to block the flow of runs, and all the rest of the bowlers had to do was to bowl straight.
However, drifting down the leg side and even bowling too far outside off, the hosts allowed Pakistan some breathing space—and extra runs. With 40 coming off the last four overs, the Zimbabwe captain was surely left to rue the extra deliveries his bowlers had gifted to the Pakistan batsmen.
Prosper Utseya: Winner
Prosper Utseya nicely illustrated the role of spinners in the shortest format of the game and showed how keeping it simple and steady has great rewards.
Pakistan batsmen are great players of right-arm spin, but Utseya, who got the ball rolling in the match, had the batsmen probing and in a spot of bother. The off-spinner gave away just 15 runs off his quota (an economy rate of under four when Pakistan managed a run rate of over eight in the end) and dismissed Umar Amin off a top edge.
He also showed his teammates, right from the start, how to go about doing things with the ball. Pity the others refused to follow his lead.