Zim falls in T20 opener

HARARE - Zimbabwe succumbed to a 25-run defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the opening Twenty20 match at Harare Sports Club on Friday.

Captain Brendan Taylor and all-rounder Malcolm Waller ended the match unbeaten on 32 runs from 30 balls and 14 from seven respectively.

The locals made 136 runs for the loss of five wickets in their allotted 20 overs in response to the tourists’ 161-5.

Zimbabwe got off to a positive run chase, reaching 53 runs before Hamilton Masakadza was trapped plum for 18 runs by pace bowler Anwa Ali after 7.5 overs.

Fellow opener Vusi Sibanda (31) was clean-bowled by leg-spinner Shahid Afridi in the 13th over. The wicket opened up avenues for Pakistan as three other wickets fell for 31 runs inside six overs.

First it was all-rounder Sean Williams who went on a self-destructive reverse sweep and was given out lbw to Pakistan skipper Muhammad Hafeez for nine runs.

Timycen Maruma perished in a bid to please the unsettled fans after charging down the track but missed Afridi’s delivery completely.

Wicketkeeper Safraz Ahmed was given the easiest of chances to stump and obliged, sending Maruma back to the pavilion for 10 runs. This was after the talented batsman got a few boos from the fans for consistently stalling the run rate.

All-rounder Elton Chigumbura was the fifth and final wicket to fall for Zimbabwe. He was clean bowled by Afridi to give the leading Pakistan spinner his third wicket for the match. Afridi was the top wicket-taker with three scalps for 25 runs from four overs while Ali and Hafeez took a wicket apiece.

Earlier, Zimbabwe chose to field after winning the toss, striking as early as the second over through seamer Tendai Chatara, who had Pakistan opener Nasir Jamshed caught by Brian Vitori for two runs.

Chatara removed the visitors’ skipper Hafeez for three runs in his next over, caught behind by his opposite number Taylor to leave the Asians on 21-2 after 3.2 overs.

After 8.2 overs, Pakistan were three wickets down for 51 runs following the wicket of Umar Amin, whose top edge off an Utseya delivery was taken by Taylor behind the wicket.

With the odds pointing the host’s way, number one batsman Ahmed Shehzad stood his ground to shift the momentum his team’s way. Shehzad scored six boundaries and a six in his 79-ball 70 before he was caught at the long-on boundary by Waller off Shingi Masakadza in the 18th over.

Sohaib Maqsood contributed 26 runs to the visitors’ score at number five while Shahid Afridi was unbeaten on 23 runs. For Zimbabwe, Chatara was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets for 30 runs from four overs while Utseya, Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura picked a wicket each.

Too many mis-fields allowed Pakistan to get a grip on the match while the bowlers gave away eight wides against the visitors' five and in the end doing themselves a disservice in a match they showed a lot of potential and character.

The second and final T20 will be played this afternoon at the same venue before the two teams switch their focus to the One-Day Internationals. The first of the three ODIs will be played here on Tuesday.

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