Bilal Asif five-for gives Pakistan series
Pakistan 162 for 3 (Shafiq 38*, Bilal 38) beat Zimbabwe 161 (Mutumbami 67, Chibhabha 48, Bilal 5-25, Imad 3-36) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan cruised to a 2-1 series victory over Zimbabwe with a seven-wicket win in the third ODI at Harare Sports Club. Offspinning allrounder Bilal Asif was the chief architect in the demolition of Zimbabwe's batting line-up by Pakistan's spinners, taking 5 for 25 as the hosts were bowled out for just 161. Bilal's wickets prompted an extraordinary collapse with Zimbabwe losing 10 for 72 to ruin what had been a solid start from their openers. The only downside for Pakistan is that they remain in ninth place in the ICC ODI rankings as a result of the loss on Saturday.
Operating from the City End of the ground, Bilal bowled his ten overs on the trot after being brought on in the 13th over by stand-in captain Sarfraz Ahmed - regular leader Azhar Ali sitting this match out with an infected foot. Openers Chamu Chibhabha and Richmond Mutumbami initially seemed to play the offspinner without much alarm, but when Chibhabha popped a simple return catch to the bowler, Zimbabwe's spectacular implosion was set in motion.
Sean Williams shuffled down the track to loft Bilal to wide long-on, but then seemed in two minds as he lunged forward at a flighted delivery and ended up chipping another tame catch to the bowler. Bilal took his second in the over by bowling a noncommittal Elton Chigumbura via the inside edge, and from then on Zimbabwe offered virtually nothing in the way of resistance.
Sikandar Raza shuffled right across to the off side as he set himself to sweep, but exposed his stumps in the process and was bowled. When Tino Mutombodzi backed away and missed a cut off when the ball kept a touch low, Bilal had his fifth and Zimbabwe were 127 for 6 in the 31st over.
There had been a completely different complexion to their innings in the midst of Chibhabha and Mutumbami's opening stand. Chibhabha played with characteristic conviction off the front foot and took much of the early strike. He was into the 20s before Mutumbami had even faced his third delivery, and looked set for a 15th ODI fifty before falling to Bilal.
His wicket broke an 89-run opening stand, and he was soon followed back to the pavilion by Brian Chari, who was lbw to Imad Wasim playing back when he should have been forward. Darting the ball in from round the wicket, Imad helped himself to two more wickets and in total Zimbabwe lost 9 for 65 to 18.5 overs of spin.
Their collapse completely overshadowed a brave innings from Mutumbami. He was attacking from the outset and weathered a fearsome blow to the head from Mohammad Irfan, the ball knocking his helmet off his head, to register a career-best 67 before Irfan won their battle by having him caught behind. After his knock on the head, and a stinging blow to his wrist off Wahab Riaz, Mutumbami did not take the field in the second innings, with Chari filling in as wicketkeeper.
The malaise in Zimbabwe's performance today continued during Pakistan's chase, which started before the lunch break due to the brevity of the hosts' innings. John Nyumbu put Bilal down at slip in the second over, and he took advantage of the let-off with a quickfire 38 on either side of the interval as Pakistan cruised past 50.
Bilal was eventually well caught by a diving Mutumbodzi at long-on. Mohammad Hafeez didn't last long and Pakistan were 104 for 3 when Ahmed Shehzad was stumped for a 61-ball 32, but Shoaib Malik and Asad Shafiq faced minimal resistance in knocking off the remaining runs during their unbroken 58-run stand.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town