December 1, 2002

Pakistan complete a five-nil whitewash of Zimbabwe

Pakistan completed a five-nil whitewash of Zimbabwe, beating them by 70 runs in the final one-day international. After putting up a much better performance for 75 per cent of the match, Zimbabwe collapsed pitifully following the dismissal of Andy Flower.

It was another hot sunny day, another good batting pitch, and Zimbabwe, hammered whether they bat first or second, decided to put Pakistan in to bat. They made two changes, bringing back Craig Evans and Henry Olonga for Sean Ervine and Gary Brent, while Pakistan restored Wasim Akram for Mohammad Zahid.

Shoaib Akhtar was a leading figure in this match; not only did he produce a vicious spell of bowling timed at between 95 and 99.3 mph, but he also faced a disciplinary hearing for a sledging incident with the batsmen and allegedly hurling a bottle of water into a section of the crowd that was heckling him.

Zimbabwe opened with Travis Friend and Olonga, and these two produced the most - the only - impressive new-ball bowling for the country on this tour. They had Pakistan's makeshift opening pair of Kamran Akmal and Faisal Iqbal playing warily, if not in actual trouble, with some seam movement and a fair degree of accuracy, and Friend removed Kamran for 3, fishing outside the off stump.

It appeared that Pakistan, after the ease with which they rolled over Zimbabwe throughout the tour, were a little careless; Misbah-ul-Haq had not scored when he skyed an attempted pull and Friend himself completed the return catch; Pakistan 16 for two.

Faisal responded with a huge six off Olonga, that pitched on the roof of the three-storey stand at square leg and bounced over the top. He continued his aggression, but when 25 had an incredible back-foot heave at Olonga that sent up a massive skyer, to be well taken by Grant Flower at extra cover. Pakistan 39 for three. Olonga was perhaps the better bowler of the two, with Friend's effort marred by seven wides in this spell and ten altogether.

Then Zimbabwe's two long-time nemeses, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana, came together to restore normal service. They were only partly successful, adding 51 before Inzamam (27) hit a sharp return catch to Brian Murphy. Younis Khan came in to play fluently, and the run rate rose steadily to more than five an over, with Youhana accelerating effortlessly to reach yet another fifty off 56 balls; Younis, who began more quickly, took 42 for his. The support bowlers did not support too accurately and the pressure relaxed; 77 runs came between the 20th and 30th overs.

Youhana scored 405 runs in the series and for the first time Zimbabwe managed to dismiss him - but for 88 (93 balls) and due to a run-out. Quick work by Grant Flower at mid-on accounted for him as he backed up too far, and Pakistan were 219 for five after a stand worth 129.

Shahid Afridi announced himself with a huge straight six off Olonga's last ball; the bowler's figures of one for 53 off ten overs did him no justice. But Olonga got his revenge in the next over with a fine throw from the deep to run Afridi out for 8.

Douglas Hondo bowled with great accuracy and skill, and got his reward when Younis (90 off 75 balls) missed a well-deserved century as he hit a low full toss straight to midwicket. Wasim Akram (22) and Saqlain Mushtaq (13), both unbeaten, saw Pakistan through to a total of exactly 300 for seven wickets.

Zimbabwe soon lost Mark Vermeulen (5), caught at second slip off Shoaib Akhtar with the total on 14. Wasim and Shoaib Akhtar put in a superb opening spell, making Dion Ebrahim and Andy Flower fight all the way. Even Andy had a couple of edgy shots through the slips before he began to put the ball away safely through the off side. A vicious bouncer from Shoaib, timed at 97.6 mph, hit Ebrahim on the helmet and held up play for a while. Another bouncer that missed Andy Flower was timed at 99.3 mph, as Pakistan pulled out all the stops to keep their unbeaten tour record.

But the batsmen stood firm against him, and Flower flourished off the other bowlers to the extent of reaching his fifty with a powerful sweep for four off Saqlain, off 45 balls. The hundred came up in the 20th over with just one wicket down. Ebrahim played a supporting role admirably, with an occasional telling blow, twice driving Saqlain through the covers for four in an over. In the next over, though, another run-out ended a fine stand, Ebrahim departing for 36 after a mix-up, and Zimbabwe were 117 for two, the pair having added 103.

This brought the Flowers together, but Andy soon fell for 72 off 68 balls, top-edging a sweep off Saqlain. In the 26th over, Zimbabwe were 134 for three, needing almost seven an over.

These two wickets were the turning point, as the impetus was lost and never regained. The spinners ran through the middle order and the Zimbabwe innings went into terminal decline. Alistair Campbell, never at his best in the lower order, scored just 3 before a reverse sweep off Saqlain hit a catch straight at slip. Evans (8) slapped Afridi straight to short cover, then Grant Flower (28) holed out off the same bowler at deep midwicket. Tatenda Taibu (6) lobbed a catch to cover off the leading edge from Afridi and Murphy ran himself out for 3.

When Younis Khan was given a bowl, Friend (6) made his day by obligingly skying a catch into the covers. Olonga at least showed he knew what should be done by hitting Younis for six into the scoreboard and then a four in the same direction; Hondo too helped himself to three fours in Younis's next over, to entertain the longsuffering crowd and reduce the deficit to double figures. Faisal Iqbal got similar brutal treatment until Mohammad Sami took a skyed return catch from Olonga (31) to end the tour. Hondo was unbeaten with 15, and for the second time in two days Zimbabwe broke their one-day last-wicket record with 47. It took away some of the pain for the crowd, but the fact remains that Zimbabwe were overwhelmed in a very one-sided series.