Mohammad Hafeez hit 71 and then took four for 10 as Pakistan destroyed hapless Zimbabwe outfit by 85 runs in the first of two Twenty20 matches at the Harare Sports Club.
Hafeez hit his first Twenty20 half-century before claiming his best bowling figures across all three formats to grab the man-of-the-match award on a memorable tour. His innings laid the foundation of Pakistan’s second highest total in Twenty20 cricket as the tourists reached an imposing 198 for four before dismissing Zimbabwe for 113 in the 16th over. The right-handed all-rounder, whose innings lasted just 48 balls, hit six fours and three sixes and put on 74 for the opening wicket with Asad Shafiq. He then added 71 with Rameez Raja, one of three players to make his debut in the match, to further consolidate Pakistan’s position.
Hafeez was finally dismissed in the 15th over but by then the damage was done and a final-overs onslaught almost took Pakistan to 200 as Zimbabwe rued missed chances and poor fielding.
Sohail Khan shines too
For Sohail Khan the outing was much more fruitful than his other matches on the tour. The right-handed fast-bowler claimed two for 13 – both wickets in his first over – as Zimbabwe were reduced to 13 for two. The hosts made attempts at bouncing back but each time Pakistan produced a breakthrough.
Hafeez, with his off-spinners, destroyed the middle-order and then inflicted a run-out as Pakistan ensured Zimbabwe continued with their win-less campaign against the tourists.
Charles Coventry salvaged some pride with a 13-ball 30 but the hosts finally ran out of resolve and their wickets as Pakistan notched up their third-highest win in terms of runs to draw first blood in the series.
Misbah praises Hafeez
The performance also satisfied Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq. “Everyone is taking responsibility,” said Misbah. “The way Hafeez and Shafiq played at the start was exactly what we wanted. We just wanted the top order to play normal shots but the credit also goes to our coaches who have helped us improve our fielding.”
Meanwhile, Hafeez, who has a dream run on the tour scoring two centuries, one half-century and claimed 10 wickets across the three formats, explained his success simply. “I was just doing the basics right,” said the 30-year-old. “It has worked for me. I had a good series in New Zealand in tough conditions and the confidence I got has helped me here.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2011.
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