Usman spins Pakistan to T20 series sweep over hapless Zimbabwe

Published November 11, 2020
MEMBERS of Pakistan squad pose for a group photo with the series trophy after winning the third Twenty20 International against Zimbabwe at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. — Tanveer Shahzad/White star
MEMBERS of Pakistan squad pose for a group photo with the series trophy after winning the third Twenty20 International against Zimbabwe at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. — Tanveer Shahzad/White star

RAWALPINDI: Leg-spinner Usman Qadir wreaked havoc against the hapless Zimbabwe batsmen with a four-wicket haul before Pakistan completed a 3-0 whitewash of their Twenty20 International series here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

The final match of Zimbabwe’s limited-overs tour — which included a three-match One-day International won 2-1 by Pakistan — proved to be a one-sided affair as Pakistan maintained their unbeaten run in T20 Internationals over Zimbabwe with the eight-wicket drubbing of the visitors being their 14th on the trot.

Debutant opener Abdullah Shafiq and Khushdil Shah completed the last rites in guiding the home side home with 28 deliveries to spare as Pakistan reached 130-2. Abdullah scored 41 off 33 balls (four boundaries and one six) while Khushdil, in contrast, blasted three sixes and three fours in a 15-ball cameo of 36. The left-hander ended the match in style by hoisting Zimbabwe’s debutant Faraz Akram for six.

Usman — son of late leg-spin legend Abdul Qadir — was the star performer as the 27-year-old snared 4-13 in only his third international. He was declared both man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series for claiming eight wickets at a miserly average of 7.50 and troubling the Zimbabwe batsmen all the way.

An emotional Usman later admitted he gained in confidence as each game progressed. “I really missed my father because he would have been very, very happy with my efforts. Overall, I enjoyed my bowling in this series because the pitch here offered support. I was particularly happy the way googlies pitched target. I’ll be working on improving my skills to become a better bowler.”

Babar Azam, who will lead Pakistan across all three formats after being announced as Test captain after the match, also praised Usman.

“We gave chances to a number of players in both the series [against Zimbabwe],” Babar remarked. “As captain you can’t ask for more if the newcomers get a chance and perform. I’m very happy to see Usman taking wickets. I’m sure he will continue in the same vein in future. And Abdullah [Shafiq] and Khushdil showed their talent with the bat. As a team there is nothing better than winning every game since each win gives confidence for the coming matches.”

Chamu Chibhabha, who had a disastrous tour with the bat in both ODI and T20 series — totalling just 65 runs in six innings — once again was left to rue his side not posting a competitive total to challenge the Pakistan batsmen. They managed just 129-9. But the Zimbabwe captain, at least, had something to cheer at last by top-scoring in this game with 31 in a 28-ball innings that included three boundaries and one six before top-edging Usman to Haider Ali at long leg.

KHUSHDIL Shah plays a lofted shot during his whirlwind knock as wicket-keeper Brendan Taylor looks on.—White Star
KHUSHDIL Shah plays a lofted shot during his whirlwind knock as wicket-keeper Brendan Taylor looks on.—White Star

“It’s not ideal to lose 3-0 and we are disappointed,” said Chibhabha at the post-match interview. “Still, there are a few positives with some young players coming to the fore and with more exposure our team will get better.”

Zimbabwe never recovered after losing Brendan Taylor, who was the highest run-getter in the ODI series, to Imad Wasim — playing his first match of the series — for eight in the fourth over as the wicket-keeper/batsman — who has been signed up by Multan Sultans as a replacement for James Vince for the PSL playoffs — holed out to deep mid-wicket where Khushdil took the catch on second attempt.

Craig Ervine (4) was nicely held by Fakhar Zaman in trying to defend a rising ball from Haris Rauf and Fakhar took another catch when Ryan Burl (1) tried to sweep Imad but only managed to lob the ball.

Usman claimed the next three wickets to fall — the 20-year-old left-hander Milton Shumba on his international debut failed to read a googly and was stumped by Mohammad Rizwan for 11, Wesley Madhevere edged a perfect leg-break into the hands of Babar at slip after scoring nine and Elton Chigumbura, in his farewell game for Zimbabwe, made only two before being nicely caught by Rizwan down the leg side.

With Chigumbura gone, Zimbabwe were heading for a total under 100 when the seventh wicket fell at 87. However, Donald Tiripano (28 off 22, three boundaries) and Wellington Masakadza, playing his first game of the Pakistan tour, came together to share the highest stand of the innings — 33 — until both got dismissed in the 19th over. While Masakadza was caught off Mohammad Hasnain, Tiripano got himself run out in attempting a second run.

With a modest chase left, Babar held himself back to allow the likes of Haider and Khushdil to follow openers Fakhar and Abdullah. But Fakhar didn’t take the chance to bat himself into form with a decent score under his belt before joining Lahore Qalandars for the PSL playoffs. He was caught in the deep for 21 while attempting to blast spinner Masakadza.

Haider made 27 with the help of two sixes but his promising innings was terminated by slow left-armer Shumba with Taylor holding a good catch behind the stumps.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2020

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