Rizwan, Qadir save Pakistan’s blushes in first Zimbabwe T20I

Mohammad Rizwan was adjudged the player of the match for his incredible knock with the bat

Rizwan, Qadir save Pakistan’s blushes in first Zimbabwe T20I PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Pakistan secured a surprisingly close 11-run victory against Zimbabwe after lone wolf Mohammad Rizwan had dragged his side to a manageable total in the first innings of the first Twenty20 International (T20I) between the sides in Harare on Wednesday.

Chasing a target of 150 runs, Zimbabwe were off to a shaky start as pacer Mohammad Hasnain removed opener Wesley Madhevere (14 off nine), caught by fielder Babar Azam, and batsman Tadiwanashe Marumani (golden duck), caught by fielder Babar Azam, in short order.

Opener Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and batsman Craig Ervine then combined for the biggest partnership of the chase that amounted to 56 runs off 49 balls.

Both batsmen however fell in quick succession as Zimbabwe found themselves in trouble after a promising start.

Kamunhukamwe fell first, stumped by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, off the bowling of veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez after scoring 29 runs off 35 balls.

Ervine, who had been in excellent touch, fell in the next over off the bowling of leg-spinner Usman Qadir, courtesy a brilliant catch by Mohammad Nawaz, after scoring 34 runs off 23 balls.

The young leg-spinner then removed captain Sean Williams (nine off 10), caught by fielder Fakhar Zaman, and wicketkeeper-batsman Regis Chakabva, out LBW, as Pakistan pressed on for an emphatic victory. 

Pacer Haris Rauf bowled a scintillating yorker to all-rounder Ryan Burl which left the batsman struggling to maintain his balance as the ball cannoned into the stumps. 

All-rounder Luke Jongwe took some big swings to bridge the gap between the sides towards the end with a breezy unbeaten knock of 30 runs off 23 balls.

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Pakistan however came out on top after Zimbabwe could only manage 138 runs at the expense of seven wickets in their allotted overs.

Usman Qadir was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan after taking three wickets at the expense of 29 runs in his four overs.

After losing the toss and being put in to bat first, Pakistan were dealt an early blow when they lost their skipper Babar Azam (two off four balls) early, caught by fielder Ryan Burl off the bowling of pacer Blessing Muzarabani.

In-form batsman Fakhar Zaman survived early after a miscue was dropped but could not make it count. The batsman fell after scoring 13 runs off 14 balls, bowled by spinner Wesley Madhevere.

The wicket opened the doors towards Pakistan’s middle and lower order which had struggled tremendously during the recently concluded series against South Africa.

The Men in Green faced another collapse as the batsmen in the fragile middle-order fell without denting the score in any significant manner.

Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez (five off seven balls) could not get going and was removed by spinner Wesley Madhevere, caught by fielder Richard Ngarava.

Batsman Danish Aziz continued to struggle against the extra bounce on offer and was caught by fielder Richard Ngarava off the bowling of Luke Jongwe after scoring just 15 runs off 11 balls.

Explosive batsman Haider Ali was cleaned up by pacer Jongwe after scoring just five runs off nine balls.

All-rounder Faheem Ashraf was run-out after scoring just one run off one ball while all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz was caught behind by wicketkeeper Chakabva off the bowling of Ngarava after scoring nine runs off nine balls.

Despite the struggles of the batsmen at the other end, Mohammad Rizwan was the rock that anchored Pakistan’s innings with an unbeaten knock of 82 runs off 61 balls to lead his side to a respectable 149-run total for the loss of seven wickets in their allotted overs.

Jongwe and Madhevere were the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe after taking two wickets each.

Mohammad Rizwan was adjudged the player of the match for his incredible knock with the bat.