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October 12, 2008
Pakistan 110 for 3 (Shoaib Khan 50, Butt 33*) beat Zimbabwe 107 for 8 (Masakadza 53, Alam 3-7) by seven wickets
A mismatch on paper, a mismatch on the pitch. Pakistan stormed to an easy seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe, knocking off the required 108 runs with Shoaib Khan jnr stroking an even 50. In winning, Pakistan have reached the final.
Zimbabwe briefly threatened to make it a contest thanks to an aggressive and uncomplicated 53 from Hamilton Masakadza, but none of his team-mates could match his ability in shot-selection. The next highest score was extras with 18, and against a batting side of the depth and natural strokeplay of Pakistan, their bowlers were equally unable to defend such a low total.
Nevertheless, Masakadza briefly exposed the rustiness in Pakistan's armoury, taking a particular fancy to Abdur Rauf. After he was cracked behind square off the back foot, Masakadza then swivelled a six over square leg, before bettering this with two stronger pulls off Anwar Ali, one of which landed on the road. Pakistan's bowling was predictably short, and Zimbabwe took toll to bring up their fifty in just the sixth over.
At the other end, Cephas Zhuwawo was virtually static in his scoring, and a top-edge off Umar Gul failed to help his confidence. An ugly slog-sweep off Shoaib Malik sent him back in the next over, and Pakistan had their breakthrough at 62 for 1. There was very little substance or fight thereafter from Zimbabwe, and Fawad Alam took centre-stage. A bullet-throw from the deep ran out Masakadza, who had just brought up a fine 35-ball fifty while Shahid Afridi beat Tatenda Taibu in the flight. Chamu Chibhabha hung around for 35 minutes, scoring 8, and became Alam's second wicket when he slapped him to long-off.
From 81 for 1, Zimbabwe lost 7 for 26, and a target of 108 was never likely to trouble Pakistan. They did lose their gun-opener, Afridi - typically attempting orbit and beyond with a huge heave - but Khan and Salman Butt played a fine hand with a partnership of 96 in just over 15 overs.
After losing Afridi, Khan propelled Pakistan forward with a classical off-drive, bisecting mid-off and the stumps, before he lifted Chigumbura for another over his head. Butt took toll of Chigumbura's floaty half-volleys, launching one over his head as Pakistan sprinted to the finishing line. No Zimbabwe bowler was spared - Ray Price began poorly with five wides down to fine-leg, and lacked control thereafter.
Unfortunately, Khan fell for 50 from 54 balls when he was brilliantly caught by Taibu, diving to his right. Appropriately, however, it allowed Alam to come in and flick the winning runs down to fine leg, as Pakistan eased home with an over to spare.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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