Tanvir and Jamshed seal victory
Nasir Jamshed scored his second successive half-century and Shahid Afridi notched an unbeaten 43 to guide Pakistan past Zimbabwe in the second ODI of the Mobilink Cup in Hyderabad. Pakistan lead the series 2-0 with three to play.
Jamshed, after the early loss of Salman Butt, shared a 95-run second-wicket partnership with Younis Khan to start Pakistan's chase confidently. Jamshed began in a hurry, lofting Gary Brent over extra cover for his first boundary of the day in only the second over. He was dropped by Brent off his own bowling early on, but there was no respite for the fielding side as he first cut fiercely past point and then drove Brent past mid-off. Elton Chigumbura then bore the brunt of Jamshed's bat - flicked over midwicket, edged over point and then turned past square-leg for consecutive boundaries.
The 18-year-old continued, smashing Chamu Chibhabha through extra cover before glancing Chigumbura to fine-leg for his 11th boundary, and bringing up his half century off only 42 deliveries. Jamshed got another reprive when on 72 - dropped by Brent again at long-off - but he was finally dismissed soon after thanks to some stunning work by Ray Price. With a quick pick-up in his follow-through, stopping a straight drive, he threw down the stumps and beat Jamshed's dive. Worse was to follow for Zimbabwe when Younis was run out for 35 two balls later going for a tight single.
Zimbabwe were in with a sniff as Shoaib Malik, too, followed four overs later - stumped off Price. Misbah-ul-Haq added 39 runs with Mohammad Yousuf to halt the slide but his dismissal brought Afridi to the middle. His arrival settled things once and for all as his 27-ball knock - loaded with four fours and two sixes - finally thwarted faint Zimbabwe hopes. He enjoyed some fortune, however, as he was dropped twice during his knock. But as Afridi pulled Hamilton Masakadza over midwicket and dispatched Chibhabha over the sight-screen, Zimbabwe were left ruing a sloppy display in the field.
Earlier, Tanvir, who later won the Man-of-the-Match award, triggered a late batting collapse to restrict Zimbabwe to 238 for 8 off their 50 overs after the visitors opted to bat first. With seven overs to go, Zimbabwe were well-placed on 209 for 3 - an ideal position from which to launch a final assault. However, Tanvir captured two quick wickets as Zimbabwe lost five for nine and finished the innings fifty runs short of a competitive target.
Zimbabwe's platform had been laid by a 137-run third-wicket partnership between Masakadza and Tatenda Taibu, but none of the lower-order batsmen took advantage. The last ten overs produced only 45 runs with two boundaries - both in the last over - as Zimbabwe panicked. Pakistan's bowling, too, improved considerably, as Tanvir used the slower ball to good effect. Iftikhar Anjum, who gave away 37 runs off his first four overs, also came back strongly to capture a brace of wickets in the first over of his second spell.
Until then, things had gone well for Zimbabwe, as a spirited fightback by Masakadza and Taibu resurrected the innings after Tanvir's early double strike left Zimbabwe on 19 for 2. However, Tanvir apart, Pakistan's fast bowlers, failed to trouble Zimbabwe - as had been the case in Karachi and Masakadza and Taibu took full toll.
Using his feet well, Masakadza was particularly severe on Anjum. Overpitching frequently, Anjum was smashed through extra cover. When he pitched short, he was pulled. Even Samiullah Khan came in for stick: bowling full and wide he was driven through the covers and flicked off his legs for boundaries. As Masakadza pulled Anjum for another boundary to square leg, then top-edged one over gully and swept Malik in quick succession, he brought up his seventh ODI half-century.
Taibu meanwhile was content with singles and twos to keep his score moving. Even the normally reliable Afridi pitched short and was repeatedly cut for easy runs. With Pakistan opting for only three specialist bowlers - a ploy that failed to be tested in the first match - both batsmen scored easily. Pakistan's lethargic fielding didn't help, as easy singles were given away, and a few half-chances went begging.
Taibu reached a steady fifty off 70 deliveries, just as Masakadza lost his concentration and drove loosely at Afridi, inside-edging on to his stumps for a well-made 87, his highest ODI score. Brendan Taylor briefly took advantage of Younis Khan, cutting past point for four and smashing him for a straight six.
The return of Tanvir, however, proved Zimbabwe's undoing as first Taylor departed then Taibu soon after. Zimbabwe's hopes of posting a competitive total vanished, and although Samiullah was swept and pulled for valuable boundaries by Gary Brent, 238 proved too small a target for an experienced Pakistani batting line-up.
Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo