Men in Green go one up in the five-match ODI series
Pakistan have defeated Zimbabwe by 201 runs in the first ODI of the five-match series at Bulawayo on Friday.
Chasing a target of 309 runs, the home side was skittled out for 107 runs.
Pakistan bowlers were right on the money from the beginning and made the most of clueless Zimbabwe batsmen — who struggled to get a foothold in the match.
Usman Khan picked up couple of wickets with the new ball which was backed up by Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali. Asharf bagged two wickets while Ali picked up one.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan romped through the Zimbabwe tail as he picked up four wickets — ensuring that he was the most successful Pakistan bowler in the innings.
For Zimbabwe debutant Ryan Murray was the only batsmen who offered some resistance. He was also the team’s highest run scorer with unbeaten 32 runs.
Earlier Pakistan had set Zimbabwe 309–run target after they were asked to bat first by the hosts.
The visitors made a relatively slow start to the innings — which was partly due to Pakistan’s circumspect batting plus the decent bowling by the Zimbabwe bowlers — but quickly picked up pace in the second half of their innings.
Imamul Haq and Fakhar Zaman gave Pakistan a solid start with a 113-run opening stand to lay the platform for a strong total.
Despite initially struggling to cope with the bowling under overcast conditions, Imam notched up second ODI century of his career. He lost his wicket towards the backend of the innings in an effort to increase the scoring rate. He scored 129 runs off 134 balls with the help 11 fours.
His partner Zaman (60) continued his good run of form with yet another half-century, which was the third fifty-plus score for the left-handed batsman in his previous five ODI innings.
Babar Azam — who made a return to the side after recovering from injury — would have been disappointed after missing out on a big score despite getting his eye in. He scored 30 runs off 34 balls with the help of three fours.
In his debut innings, Asif Ali provided Pakistan with just the kind of finish they needed in the death overs of the innings. He played a quick-fire cameo of 46 runs from just 25 balls with the help of four fours and two sixes. His knock was instrumental in propelling Pakistan towards the 300-run mark.
Tendai Chatara and Donald Tiripano picked up couple of wickets each for the home side.
Iman was declared player of the match due to his brilliant innings.
Imam: "It is a great feeling to come back in the side. We did not have a good time in New Zealand and I was working hard. I want to thank the management. We knew if we play the first 10 overs according to the situation we knew we could put up a good score. Thanks to my parents and the management. If you get set, you make sure you play in the end. I try to do that and I succeeded today."
Sarfraz Ahmed: "If the team performs well, the captain is definitely happy. I think we could have got more runs in the end but there was overcast conditions. Zaman and Imam played well in the first 15 overs. Very pleased with the bowlers' performance but we need to work more. Every match is very important and we want to take it one by one."