Pakistan hosted Zimbabwe for the first of the three T20Is in Rawalpindi on Saturday (November 7). Babar Azam led Pakistan to a strong 1-0 lead with a match-winning knock of 82 runs as a resilient innings by Wesley Madhvere(70*) went in vain. The match marked the debut of Usman Qadir, the son of legendary Abdul Qadir.
Zimbabwe opted to bat first after winning the toss. Mohammad Hasnain, who had a 5-wicket haul in the last game to back himself, proved their decision wrong instantly by sending Chibhabha back to the pavilion in the very first over for a duck. The terrible run with the bat for the Zimbabwe skipper continued and this was his second consecutive duck on the tour. Brendan Taylor(20) got off to a brilliant start but couldn’t capitalise on it as he flicked Haris Rauf straight into the hands of deep square leg.
Sean Williams (24), the centurion in their historic win in the last ODI, failed to repeat his heroics and was dismissed by the debutant, Usman Qadir shortly after. While the wickets kept falling on one end, it was the young Wesley Madhevere who stood firm on the other end and made sure that the scoreboard kept ticking. The regular fall of wickets never really Zimbabwe batsmen to free their hands but a stellar knock of 70 runs in just 48 deliveries by Madhvere powered them to a decent total of 156/6 on the board in their 20 overs. This was also his maiden T20I fifty.
Haris Rauf and Wahab Riaz led the Pakistan bowling attack picking up 2 wickets each.
Chasing a below-par total of 156 runs was always going to be easy for a power-packed Pakistan batting line up. Zimbabwe did put up a good fight by picking up 2 quick wickets upfront but the partnership of 80 runs between Mohammad Hafeez (36) and Babar Azam (82) for the third wicket ensured there were no twists in a seemingly easy run chase took the game away from Zimbabwe.
Babar Azam batted beautifully to bring up his 15th T20I fifty before losing his wicket as he gave in to his temptation to slog at the back end of the innings with the finish line in sight. But the damage was already done and Pakistan comfortably chased the total down with 7 balls to spare and 6 wickets in hand. Blessing Muzarabani picked up two wickets and was Zimbabwe’s most successful bowler yet again.
Babar Azam was adjourned the man of the match.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 157/4 (Babar Azam 82, Mohammad Hafiz 36; Blessing Muzarabani 2-26, Tendai Chatara 1-25) defeated Zimbabwe 156/6 (Wesley Madhevere 70*, Sean Williams 25; Haris Rauf 2-25, Wahab Riaz 2-37 ) by 6 wickets.