Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Harare August 27, 2013

Masakadza sets up shock win for Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe 246 for 3 (Masakadza 85, Sibanda 54, Taylor 43*) beat Pakistan 244 for 7 (Misbah 83*, Hafeez 70) by 7 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The last time Zimbabwe beat Pakistan in any format was 15 years ago. Back then, Pakistan lost to arguably the most formidable Zimbabwe side in history - one that was capable of standing up to the best international sides. With the cricketing climate in the country having undergone a drastic change since then, any victory by current setup against a top side will be remembered for long. Coming off a disappointing T20 series, where Zimbabwe failed to figure out how to close out a chase, they held their composure and applied themselves better despite the short turnaround time.

A strong opening stand of 107 between Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza was the bedrock in their chase of 245. Having dealt with the seamers with ease during the T20s, Zimbabwe's chances of victory hung on how they would perform outside their comfort zone. They looked ill at ease against the spin trio in the T20s but crucially, this time, they didn't let the spinners run away with the advantage. Saeed Ajmal managed to strike, but the long interval between breakthroughs meant that Pakistan were always playing catch-up. In the closing stages, Pakistan had created enough pressure to bring the equation down to a run-a-ball, but a combination of poor fielding and freakish luck meant that it was Zimbabwe's day.

Before this match, Masakadza spoke about the importance of his duty, as an opener, to set the base and not allow pressure to build on the lower order. Back at the top, a position he is comfortable with, and with an opening partner from school days, Masakadza took the initiative by hammering Junaid Khan for three boundaries in an over. The openers were strong through the off side against the left-armers and the boundary barrage prompted captain Misbah-ul-Haq to bring in spin from both ends from the eighth over.

The spinners managed to keep the runs down but wickets eluded them. Misbah used all five bowlers by the end of 12 overs and the breakthrough finally came in the 24th, when Sibanda stayed back to an Ajmal ball that spun back in. Masakadza reached his fifty the following over and continued to take on the spinners, sweeping Ajmal and reading Shahid Afridi's variations. He chipped down the track and lofted Afridi over extra cover for six in an over that produced 13. The frustration showed in Pakistan's fielding, when in that over, a drive back to the bowler which should have been stopped resulted in two runs.

Masakadza fell during the batting Powerplay, smashing Ajmal straight to cover. It was only temporary relief for Pakistan because by then Taylor was set, having already hit four boundaries. Pakistan didn't do themselves any favours in the field, though. A struggling Timycen Maruma tried to loft over long-on but Ahmed Shehzad was in two minds whether to catch or stop the ball and the ball bounced over his head for four. Taylor himself was let-off, on 37, when a reverse sweep went straight to point where Junaid dropped it.

Luck was firmly in Zimbabwe's favour. Maruma's wobbly knock suggested that Zimbabwe were starting to panic, but Sean Williams, aided by some good fortune, ensured his side held the edge with a spicy cameo. An inside edge off Junaid hit the base of the stumps but miraculously, didn't dislodge the bails. Worse still for Pakistan, it went for four. Williams sealed the win in style, smashing a six over midwicket to give Zimbabwe their first ODI win against a top team since October 2011.

Pakistan, winning the toss, found runs hard to come by at the start due to steady seam bowling, recovered in the middle thanks to Mohammad Hafeez's brisk half-century, and stumbled towards the end, failing to accelerate due to the pressure caused by the sudden fall of wickets. What prevented them from suffering a complete meltdown was Misbah-ul-Haq, who carried on his good form from the West Indies with his fourth consecutive fifty.

It was a mixed day for Zimbabwe in the field. A series of drops at the start showed that the team had hardly made any progress on that front since the India tour. Mohammad Hafeez was a beneficiary of one of those drops, when on 10. He went on to score 70, but the pace of his innings was crucial, with Misbah not deviating from his tried and tested conservative approach in the middle overs.

Hafeez found early momentum with three sixes off Prosper Utseya, down the ground, though he was lucky the second one wasn't pouched at the boundary's edge. Hafeez was strong through the off side, punishing the offspinners in particular. He picked 48 of his 70 runs off Utseya and Malcolm Waller, picking the large gaps square of the wicket on the off side.

Pakistan struggled to maintain a healthy run-rate following that wicket. Umar Amin was run-out trying to complete a second run. Afridi played a typical blink-and-you-missed-it cameo before edging a slog. Haris Sohail was caught brilliantly by Utseya, who plucked a one-handed blinder at short cover - a catch good enough to forget the sitters put down earlier by Zimbabwe.

Misbah's innings had a high percentage of singles - he had scored only two fours till the 46th over, and yet had managed a decent strike-rate of 81.69. Yet, he saved his big hitting only for the final over, mowing Tinashe Panyangara for massive blows over the on side to take Pakistan to 244. It was well short of stretching the hosts, who are a win away from sealing the series.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manesh on August 29, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    I am not surprised by the result. Pak team is one of the worst in the world. Their players claim big but can't perform that big.

  • farhan on August 28, 2013, 21:02 GMT

    If Pakistan has to score 280 to ensure a win against a side like Zimbabwe then shame on our bowlers. A score of 244 should have been enough against Zimbabwe. It is our bowlers who failed us in this particular game rather than the batsman. Pakistan has world class bowlers and they should have been able to restrict Zimbabwe to 170-180. Perhaps they had an off day. I am sick and tired of people blaming Misbah. If he was not there our batting would not even score 100. You need consistency to win matches at highest level which Afridi does not have though when he is on fire there is no better site. The same Misbah and (almost) same team beat the Windiws in their own yard. Our bowling was fantastic against them consistenly. I am sure Pak will bounce back in 2nd and 3rd one day.

  • Android on August 28, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    Removing Afridi as an ODI captain was the biggest blunder ever. Misbah just isn't suited for ODI cricket, I'd rather have him in T20's than in ODI, because he doesn't have the game to play aggressively in a risk free manner. Hence, perfect for both extreames of cricket T20 and Test matches. We need to make sure that we limit Hafeez for T20's and Misbah for test matches. That way our youngsters won't have to suffer.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    Congratulations to Zim. They won all around. Great bowling and batting. Pakistan was never in the game.

    Really concerning. The batting just wont deliver. Cant remember when we crossed 250 in an ODI. Misbah probably can play faster but if I were he, I would probably do the same. There have been enough innings where not even one batsman made it into double figures. Cant blame that on Misbah.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    If Misbah feels he's had enough and decides to retire, Ajmal can take credit for his retirement as well !!!

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    @shailesh2710: Don't say that Misbah Ul Haq is a worst ever captain & batsman. At this time he is the only consistent Pakistan players. He win against WI in WI. Yesterday Pakistan lost not because of Misbah. Pakistan played Lazy cricket Yesterday against Zim, that's why they lost. One thing I agree with you, i.e. Pakistan should use Afridi as a opener and make advantages of first 15 overs.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Hey guys don't praise zimbawe a lot, because this is a lucky win for them. A gift from Pakistan. Next matches they will lose. And don't angry with Pakistan team, they will bounce back. Zimbawe not a consistent team. Zim exploited Pakistan's lazy performance. Actually Pakistan take zim as a small team.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    good win for zim but pakistan team is lacking what it takes to be a top side iin one day and other formats of cricket always unpredictalble no sence of playing they play cricket the way a local village team plays and no idea what they are doing and most importantly everyone in the team plays for himself

  • shailesh on August 28, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Misbah Ul Haq is a worst ever captain & batsman pakistan has ever produced. He goes no where with his batting, even his batting is not winning matches or setting up a formidable total for team. Pak should use Afridi has opener & give him full freedom to bat the way he wants this will defenately will help.

  • hibbatur on August 28, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    SandipManjrekar beautifully analyzed Pakistan batting mess up, the analysis which Pakistan think tank is incapable of doing. Yes Misbah played well, but only for himself, the rest of the batting is definitely lower then the quality of the Zimbabwe batting. Well played Zimbabwe, go ahead the series is there for the taking.