Pakistan 136 for 8 (Malik 35, Rizwan 33*, Chibhabha 3-18) beat Zimbabwe 123 for 9 (Chigumbura 31, Wasim 4-11) by 13 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A rearguard effort of 33 not out from Mohammad Rizwan and a strangling spell of 4 for 11 from left-arm spinner Imad Wasim kept Pakistan's unbeaten T20 record against Zimbabwe intact with a 13-run win in the first match in Harare. Pakistan's innings was first salvaged by Shoaib Malik, before Rizwan lifted them to 136 for 8.
Zimbabwe went down with hardly any fight despite restricting the visitors to a below-par score as Wasim, in his fourth match, made sure most of Zimbabwe's reputed batsmen fell for low scores. Only Hamilton Masakadza tried to establish the chase with a run-a-ball 25, and captain Elton Chigumbura gave the hosts some hope in the end with a 28-ball 31, but the asking rate had shot up too far after the early wickets.
Wasim's bowling from round the wicket reaped rewards from the very first over. He got Chamu Chibhabha for a duck and Sikandar Raza in the eighth over in bizarre fashion when the batsman came down the pitch and was stumped, but was also given lbw. Keeping the pressure on from the other end, Craig Ervine was trapped lbw by Sohail Tanvir as he unleashed a flick but missed. Masakadza started slowly with the fall of wickets around him and then tried to push the run rate with boundaries but the pressure showed when he holed out to long-on off Wasim, who made it four wickets in his four overs by getting Sean Williams lbw for 14 soon after.
At 66 for 5 the task was left to Chigumbura but he was let down further by two run-outs - of Richmond Mutumbami and debutant Luke Jongwe. Chigumbura took the chase to the last over but 16 runs from six balls was too stiff with only two wickets in hand.
Earlier, Pakistan were kept on a leash almost throughout their innings, barring two partnerships - one led by Malik and the other by Rizwan. Chibhabha - like the other Zimbabwe medium-pacers - hardly gave the batsmen any pace to work with, and threw Pakistan off track by removing their top order early. After not allowing Ahmed Shehzad to build on his momentum of three fours in the first three overs by knocking back his off stump, he dismissed Mukhtar Ahmed and Sohaib Maqsood by bowling a stump-to-stump line.
Pakistan were rescued from a precarious 29 for 3 when Malik and Umar Akmal combined for nearly six overs to score 42 runs. Malik hammered a six off Graeme Cremer in the 10th over and Umar used the late cut effectively to keep the run rate around six, but he holed out to long-on in the 12th over. Pakistan would have been 74 for 5 had Mutumbami stumped Rizwan in the next over but Williams' sharp turn beat both the batsman and wicketkeeper.
That cost Zimbabwe the match as Rizwan scored another 31 runs with unorthodox shots to provide the finish his team desperately needed. He used his feet against the spinners, especially to smack a six off Raza in the 17th over that conceded 12 runs, and his alliance with Wasim (19 off 12) turned the match Pakistan's way as they accumulated 46 runs from 4.4 overs. Wasim struck a consecutive six and four off the last two balls of Williams' spell and Rizwan's stay till the last over helped Pakistan collect 45 runs from the last five overs, despite scoring only nine from the last two overs off the slower balls of Jongwe and Tinashe Panyangara.
Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo