Flowers blossom but Zimbabwe fail

Flowers bloomed in the desert but Pakistan inspired by the deadly duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis saw their team home by 29 runs to make sure of place in Sunday's Khaleej Times Trophy final against Sri Lanka here at the Sharjah Stadium Wednesday night.

While the Flower brothers, Grant and Andy were at the crease, an upset seemed a likely result. But once demon bowler Wasim Akram removed Andy (48) and Dion Ebrahim in one over the match swung towards Pakistan as Zimbabwe suffered their 16 straight loss in One-day Internationals since June.

The two joined hands at Zimbabwe 13 for two, Waqar removing Trevor Gripper and Stuart Carlisle in his fourth over. However, Grant who had a miserable time in the tournament, survived a torrid opening spell from Wasim and Andy got on top of Pakistan attack to give their side a fair chance of victory with their record breaking third wicket stand worth 146.

The prospect of an unpset victory diminished when Grant Flower was unluckily run out, while backing up at the bowler's end, for a splendid 91 that earned him Man-of-the- Match award.

Soon after Abdur Razzaq, hammered all over the place by Flower brothers, got into the act and dismissed Heath Streak and Sean Ervine to plunge Zimbabwe to 175 for seven, the last five wickets falling for just 16 runs.

Zimbabwe hopes were revived once again by Doug Marillier and Gary Brent but Waqar ended any hopes of African nation of win by having the former splendidly caught by Azhar Mahmood.

Wasim and Waqar each claimed three wickets, the former conceding 19 and the latter 40 while Razzaq chipped in with two for 48.

After Thursday's rest day, Pakistan face Sri Lanka in the dress rehearsal Friday.

Earlier when Pakistan batted after Waqar won the toss for third successive time it were the two Pathans, Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan, who ensured a decent total for the bowlers to bowl at.

Shahid in his most belligerent mood clobbered six sixes and two fours in his rapid 58 off only 36 deliveries while Younis's 59 required 81 balls and managed just two fours in a restrained knock.

While Shahid needed only 34 balls to reach his fifty - the fastest so far in the tournament - he was particularly severe on Gary Brent uptil this match the most economical Zimbabwe bowler - hitting him two successive sixes the first two deliveries he faced and then repeated the dose in the medium pacer's next over.

Pakistan, making four changes from the side that whipped Zimbabwe in their first encounter giving everyone a chance before the dress rehearsal and the final against Sri Lanka Sunday.

In came opener Naved Latif, all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, Inzamam-ul-Haq back in the side after the two-match ban and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria in place of a disappointing Taufiq Umer, Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik and Saeed Anwar.

Apart from the Khans, Yousuf Youhana (41) and Azhar Mahmood (29) made useful contributions while Inzamam struck on the box by Henry Olonga had to retire but returned with a runner to make 21.

Zimbabwe, an excellent fielding side, had a poor day. Inzamam was dropped twice, Shahid was put down at 45 and Olonga was guilty of not attempting to make an effort to catch an Azhar Mahmood on-drive.