Zimbabwe threw away another chance to beat Pakistan as the tourists clinched the Twenty20 series 2-0 and with it completed a tour whitewash at the Harare Sports Club.
Chasing a modest 142-run target and needing six off the final Sohail Khan delivery, Tatenda Taibu failed to connect as Zimbabwe were left to rue a five-run loss.
The victory was just icing on the farewell cake for Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis, who stepped down after an 18-month stint with the team. While the captain and players thanked the outgoing coach, the win was special for all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who struck another half-century before claiming three wickets to end a phenomenal tour.
Hafeez, who bagged the man-of-the-match award, helped Pakistan post a reasonable total after opening partner Asad Shafiq, Rameez Raja and former captain Shoaib Malik had made their way back by the time the score reached 34.
The 30-year-old added 59 with wicket-keeper Umar Akmal before being dismissed for a well-made 51 off just 38 deliveries. His departure in the 15th over left Pakistan at 93 for four but Akmal and Misbah failed to provide the fireworks in the face of purposeful Zimbabwe bowling. The tourists had to settle for 141 with Zimbabwe in with a real chance of winning their first match of the tour across all three formats.
However, as is so often the case, Zimbabwe threw away a bright start with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal breaking the 28-run opening stand. Hafeez then got among the wickets and ended with three for 11 as Zimbabwe collapsed to 71 for six before Elton Chigumbura and Tatenda Taibu gave them hope.
However, the wicket-keeper failed in his bid to hit a last-ball six as Pakistan scraped through to another close win.
Misbah praises Waqar’s input
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq was all praise for the 39-year-old. “We really are grateful to Waqar,” said the right-handed batsman. “He did a wonderful job and the way he worked with everybody was great.
“He came at a difficult time when a lot of youngsters were starting. I’m definitely going to miss him.”
While hailing the team’s performance, which saw them clinch the one-off Test, whitewash Zimbabwe 3-0 in the One-Day International series before the Twenty20s, Misbah said it was good preparation for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka. “I’m satisfied with the way we played. All the players got a fair chance and it was good preparation for the Sri Lanka series.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2011.