The second T20I between Pakistan and Zimbabwe more or less followed the same script as the first. Having chosen to bat, Pakistan scraped to 136 again, and the Zimbabwe batsmen were never on course during the chase. Umar Akmal struck a busy 38 to lend the visitors late boost after a regular fall of wickets, and the target was made to look bigger with the Pakistan bowlers dismantling the Zimbabwe top order inside five overs. The asking rate continued to rise and the hosts eventually fell short by 15 runs.
Chamu Chibhabha was given out lbw in the third over of the chase despite the ball pitching outside leg stump, Hamilton Masakadza made room and carved Mohammad Irfan to third man, while some sharp fielding from the tag team of Shahid Afridi and Sohaib Maqsood ran out Craig Ervine. Imad Wasim then struck in his second over when Richmond Mutumbami, scoreless for seven balls, was bowled through the gate. The Pakistan fielders cranked up the intensity, cut down runs and ably backed their bowlers up.
Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza offered some resistance with a 60-run partnership, using nudges and bunts while occasionally attempting reverse-sweeps and slogs. Just as Zimbabwe looked to find a higher gear, Raza was dismissed by a canny slower ball from Imran Khan for his maiden international wicket. At that point, the equation read 53 runs from 23 balls.
Elton Chigumbura, though, gave Zimbabwe an outside chance when he hit two sixes off Imran over long-off in the 17th over. The first one was palmed over the fence by Ahmed Shehzad, and the second cleared him comfortably. The returning Irfan, coming in for Wahab Riaz, snuffed out Zimbabwe's slender chance by having Chigumbura caught at long-on for 17 off 8 balls. Williams and Luke Jongwe fought it out but could only reduce the margin of defeat.
While Irfan generated typical extra bounce even on a slow pitch, Imran was impressive with his assortment of slower cutters. They finished with combined figures of 8-0-60-4 as Pakistan claimed their third straight T20 series win.
The match-winning target was set up by Akmal, who came in at 72 for 4, and boosted Pakistan's innings. He began with a brace of fours before he launched the first six of the game off the penultimate ball of the innings. Akmal was also adept in finding gaps and Wasim managed a couple of fours as Pakistan took 14 runs off the last over.
The start too had been bright before the middle order botched it up. Mohammad Hafeez, the other change in Pakistan's XI, did not take much time to find his bearings, playing a handsome drive and two pulls.
However, Tinashe Panyangara dismissed Shehzad for seven in the fourth over, and two overs later Hafeez was undone by the slowness of the pitch when he tamely chipped Jongwe to short midwicket.
The Shoaibs - Malik and Maqsood - threatened to mount a recovery but were foiled by the spinners. Their 30-run stand ended when Malik dragged Graeme Cremer to long-on. Instead of going back to rebuilding mode, Maqsood advanced down the track the following over and played an injudicious shot: skewing one into the lap of backward point. Rizwan and Afridi also failed but Akmal lifted Pakistan, despite good variations from Panyangara and Jongwe at the death.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo