St. John's - The first-ever international match between two neutral teams on Caribbean soil was not one that produced drama or tension here yesterday.
For Pakistan, however, it was a result that gave them a satisfactory start to their tour of the West Indies.
For Zimbabwe, here since early March, their fifth successive defeat and their third in the shorter form of the game, it was another disappointing setback that virtually dashed their faint hopes of qualifying for the finals of the Caribbean's inaugural tri-nation limited-overs tournament.
For a crowd of about 4 000 at the Antigua Recreation Ground, the major entertainment came from Chicki's Hi-Fi and Shahid Afridi, the 20-year-old pinch-hitter who lashed a run-a-ball 69 that set Pakistan on the way to overhauling Zimbabwe's inadequate 199 for nine off their quota of 50 overs.
Afridi, whose reputation has been well known since he was summoned from a youth tour of the Caribbean four years ago to Kenya for a senior tournament in which he blasted the fastest century in One-Day Internationals (off 37 balls), smacked three sixes and five fours in an innings that also contained a fair degree of self-restraint.
When he was taken at long-off attempting a fourth six, Pakistan were 109 for three in the 21st over, but made somewhat heavy weather in completing the victory which was eventually achieved by five wickets in the 48th over.
Afridi announced himself with a hooked six off Neil Johnson, but reserved the roughest treatment for the 19-year-old medium-pacer Mluleki Nkala.
He was clobbered over the long-off fence in his first over and then despatched over mid-wicket with disdain, a shot which raised Afridi's half-century.
Zimbabwe, like Pakistan, depended on their spinners on a pitch that favoured the slower men to check a rapid advance that was reflected by the scoring rate coming down from 5.6 after 15 overs to 4.0 after 40.
Left-armer Dirk Viljoen and leg-spinner Brian Murphy delivered 20 overs for 60 runs between them and Pakistan's cause was not helped by the irresponsible dismissal of Inzamam-ul-Haq and the needless run-out of Yousaf Youhana after both were making measured headway.
The Sharjah Cup champions needed the level heads of captain Moin Khan and 20-year-old Abdur Razzaq in an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 47 to prevent any embarrassment or exposure to a seemingly lengthy tail that started with Waqar Younis at No. 8.
The pitch was not entirely ideal, but Zimbabwe surely should have set the opposition a more difficult target after the start they were given.
Openers Grant Flower and Neil Johnson and the No. 3 Stuart Carlisle settled in against the pace of Waqar Younis, Mohammad Akram and Abdur Razzaq, but neither could convert a solid start into a significant contribution.
The progress during the first 25 overs in which Zimbabawe reached 100 for two, was steady if not spectacular, but there was no increase in the tempo during the second phase that produced an almost identical scoring rate.
Most of those overs were delivered in tandem by two contrasting spinners who conceded only 56 runs from the 20 overs they sent down just before the start of the last 10 overs.
Arshad Khan, a tall off-spinner, encouragingly flighted the ball and at the other end Musthaq Ahmed, sending down leg-breaks that turned and bounced, kept Zimbabwe on such a tight rein in a period of more than 15 overs in which there was not a single four.
Each had just the one scalp, but both were crucial.
Arshad removed Johnson by way of the first of three catches to teenager Imran Nazir, while Musthaq, appearing in a One-Day International for the first time since the DMC Festival in Toronto last September, accounted for the free-scoring Carlisle.
There was little for Zimbabwe after that inspite of Guy Whittall's 31 at the end.
Zimbabwe vs Pakistan
Cable & Wireless One Day International Series
Antigua Recreation Ground