HARARE: Captain Misbah-ul-Haq led from the front with a half century and two brilliant run outs as Pakistan defeated Zimbabwe by 108 runs in the final one-day international to clinch the series 2-1.
Misbah made a resolute 67 off 85 balls which lifted Pakistan to 260-6 and then ignited the Zimbabwe collapse by running out Taylor (26) and Sean Williams (2) before Pakistan spinners eventually dismissed the home team for 152 runs in 40 overs.
Malcolm Waller fought a lone battle with 48 off 71 balls before he was the last man to be dismissed. Spinners Saeed Ajmal (2-15), Abdul Rehman (2-23) and Mohammad Hafeez (2-40) all were among wickets as Zimbabwe struggled to come to terms with Pakistan's experienced spinning trio.
“There was a little inconsistent bounce and pace (in the wicket) so I wanted to make sure we played the 50 overs and post something around 250-260,” Misbah said.
Zimbabwe shocked Pakistan with a seven-wicket win in the first match before Pakistan leveled the series with a convincing 90-run win.
Zimbabwe, which has not won an ODI series against a major team for the last 12 years, looked threatening briefly in their run-chase at 66-2 in the 15th over before Misbah ran out Taylor off a brilliant direct throw from covers.
Highly rated Sikandar Raza (6), playing his first match of the series, was trapped leg before by Mohammad Hafeez before Misbah inflicted another dent by running out Williams as Zimbabwe lost three wickets in space of nine runs.
Afridi then had Elton Chigumbura leg before wicket in his first over before Waller and Prosper Utseya (23) delayed the inevitable with a 58-run stand.
Earlier after being sent in to bat, Misbah made 67 off 85 balls with six boundaries, and opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad also faced as many deliveries for his 54, hitting three fours.
Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed (38) provided a steady start of 66 runs before Pakistan was pegged back when Hafeez pulled a hamstring in the 23rd over and had to retire.
Hafeez returned in the second last over and added 14 more to his score to remain unbeaten on 26. Fast bowler Tendai Chatara (3-48) was the pick of Zimbabwe bowlers.
Zimbabwe's part-time bowlers – left-arm spinner Williams and medium fast Hamilton Masakadza – conceded just 36 runs in between their 10 overs with the latter claiming the wicket of Shehzad as Pakistan struggled to 130-2 in 35 overs.
However, left-handed Umar Amin (33 off 25 balls) lifted the scoring tempo by adding 51 runs off 48 balls with Misbah before offspinner Utseya made a good two-handed reflex catch off his own bowling to end Amin's innings.
Zimbabwe bowlers lost their grip in the last six overs with wicketkeeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed (22) adding another brisk 48 off 28 balls before he was brilliantly caught low down by captain Brendan Taylor behind the wickets.
“The openers gave us a good start but the game changed when Amin came in and Sarfraz (Ahmed) also batted well and we managed a good total,” Misbah said.
Misbah was out in the last over while attempting a big hit when he holed out in the deep to Raza which gave Shingi Masakadza (1-65), younger brother of Hamilton, his only wicket of the innings.
Both teams now compete in a two-test series with the first test beginning next Tuesday. “We have a very settled test squad and everyone is performing,” Misbah said.
“They know their role and most of them are seniors now so it's not a problem for us.”