Imad Wasim puts Zimbabwe in a spin as Pakistan claim first T20

Published September 27, 2015
Pakistan's batsman Shoaib Malik (C) in action as Zimbabwe's wicket keeper Richmond Mutumbami looks on (L) during the first of two T20 cricket matches between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club. — AFP
Pakistan's batsman Shoaib Malik (C) in action as Zimbabwe's wicket keeper Richmond Mutumbami looks on (L) during the first of two T20 cricket matches between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club. — AFP

HARARE: Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim took career-best figures of four for 11 as Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 13 runs in the first Twenty20 international at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

Set 137 for victory, the home side could only muster 123 for nine in reply after Pakistan had won the toss and elected to bat.

Wasim, 26, proved chief destroyer as he bagged the wicket of in-form opener Chamu Chibhabha for a duck before reducing Zimbabwe to 66 for five when he dismissed Sean Williams (14) in the 12th over.

Captain Elton Chigumbura (31) was the only home batsman to muster much resistance to the visitors' attack, before he became the third run out of the innings in the final over.

Shoaib Malik (35) top-scored for Pakistan as they posted 136 for eight in 20 overs and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan finished unbeaten on a measured 33 from 32 balls.

Seamer Chamu Chibhabha was the pick of the home bowlers with three for 18, his best figures in Twenty20 internationals.

The final match of the 20-over series will be played at the same venue on Tuesday, after which the teams will contest three one-day internationals starting on Thursday.

Pakistan had earlier set a target of 137 runs for Zimbabwe to chase after deciding to bat first.

The Greens got of to a shaky start and failed to find rhythm throughout the innings.

Opener Ahmed Shehzad and Mukhtar Ahmed departed early after scoring just 17 and 4 runs, respectively, followed by Sohaib Maqsood who managed to score just 6 runs. All three got dismissed off Chamu Chibhabha's measured and smart bowling.

Shoaib Malik (35) and Umer Akmal (14) appeared to have provided stability but they too left.

Shahid Afridi departed after scoring just two runs playing an uppish stroke on Panyangara's delivery which landed into Chibhabha's hands while Rizwan's 33 was the most decent performance from the lower order.

Earlier, left arm medium pacer Imran Khan Jr. made his debut after Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi decided to bat first after winning the toss.

Imran earned the national call up after a spectacular performance in the recently concluded domestic T20 competition taking 16 wickets in seven matches for champions Peshawar. The 27-year-old from Swat, with his movement and accuracy, also shined with a hattrick during the tournament.

Pakistan began a whistle-stop tour of Zimbabwe on Sunday with a view to preparing for greater challenges that lie ahead in the coming months.

The two sides will engage in two Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals in the space of nine days at Harare Sports Club, in what Pakistan coach Waqar Younis termed a “payback tour” after Zimbabwe became the first team to travel to Pakistan in six years this May.

While Younis remains wary of Zimbabwe's abilities in their home conditions, he also admitted that Pakistan have one eye on what is to follow.

“We've got a very big tour coming up straight after this against England, so this is kind of a preparation,” he said at a press conference on Saturday.

“We had a couple of months layoff before this which we needed after a long tour to Sri Lanka, but I think the boys are fresh and we want to make the most of it.”

Pakistan have included uncapped players Imran Khan jnr, Aamer Yamin and Bilal Asif in their squad for the Twenty20 matches, which take place on Sunday and Tuesday.

With a World Twenty20 coming up next March, Waqar hinted that the new players would receive an opportunity to showcase their skills on the international stage ahead of the 2016 showpiece in India.

“Every team is looking to that World Cup, and that's what we're trying to do as well,” he said.

“That's why we're bringing youngsters in to have a look at them and see what our best team can be for the World Cup.”

Pakistan were originally expected in Zimbabwe last month, and the delay in their arrival allowed the hosts some time off after back-to-back visits by India and New Zealand.

Zimbabwe spent some of it at a team building camp on a game reserve near Gweru, which captain Elton Chigumbura said had cleared the air.

Zimbabwe endured a difficult first half of the year, winning just one of 12 ODIs and also making headlines for the wrong reasons with veteran bowler Prosper Utseya accusing Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Alistair Campbell of racism in a letter to the board.

“I thought we managed to iron out things that were hanging a bit in our team,” said Chigumbura.

“It's a process, and we're going to try and implement what we got from Gweru, from the psychologist, and hopefully we can build from there.”

On the field, Zimbabwe's bowling has been their greatest weakness, particularly at the end of the innings when their opposition has often been allowed to run amok.

“We've been working on our fitness, and also finding the combinations to take wickets in the middle overs, which makes things easier for us at the death,” bowling coach Douglas Hondo said.

Pakistan team:

Shahid Afridi (capt.), Ahmed Shehzad, Mukhtar Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Umer Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Imad Wasim, Mohammed Rizwan (wk.), Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Khan Jr.

Zimbabwe team:

E Chigumbura (capt.), CJ Chibhabha, Sikandar Raza, H Masakadza, CR Ervine, SC Williams, R Mutumbami (wk.), LM Jongwe, P Utseya, AG Cremer, T Panyangara

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