Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
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Shoaib Malik, whose unbeaten 96 had kept Pakistan on course during a severely tense chase of 277 in Harare, admitted he was disappointed by the way the match ended after the umpires took the players off for bad light. At the time, Pakistan needed another 21 runs to win in two overs with two wickets in hand. But with play being curtailed, Duckworth-Lewis calculations indicated the visitors were short by five runs.
"The way we were batting then, I think the game was in our favour," Malik said. "Obviously there are certain ICC rules and we have to follow them. I think overall it was a great game, but at the end of the day it's a little bit disappointing the way it ended. But being a professional cricketer and representing your country, you have to follow certain rules and regulations."
Malik batted for almost 42 overs and helped Pakistan recover from a precarious 76 for 6. He added 111 runs for the seventh wicket with Aamer Yamin, who struck a maiden ODI fifty, and an unbeaten 63 for the ninth wicket with Yasir Shah.
"I had one thing in my mind," Malik said. "If we play the full 50 overs, then we might have a chance. The minute that Aamer Yamin came in he gave me that hope, 'okay I'm here and I can hit boundaries'. So he started hitting boundaries and I started taking singles. And it was just one thing that I always had in my mind during the game: that I have to play until the 50th over. And whichever way the game goes, either to Zimbabwe or us, I still have to play the fifty overs."
Yamin departed with 90 still needed from 61 balls and Pakistan were left with three wickets in hand. But Malik insisted he never felt the game had slipped away. "I never thought of it that way. The way [Yamin] batted, he gave us hope. Even when Yasir Shah came in, the way he was batting I think the pressure was on the Zimbabwe team. It's like a team thing. Obviously we lost, but at the end of the day we have achieved a lot from this game."
Earlier in the day, three of Pakistan's top-four batsmen had fallen playing aggressive strokes. But Malik said an attacking approach had been part of the visitors' gameplan. "The way cricket is going I think you have to play aggressive cricket, and that's what we even talked about in our meeting before this game. Sometimes you lose wickets, sometimes you score runs. It's part of the game."
Malik also gave credit to the Zimbabweans for the way they played, singling Elton Chigumbura out for particular praise. "We started off well bowling as a unit, but obviously we must also give credit to the Zimbabwean batsmen, especially [Chamu] Chibhabha and Chigumbura. Especially Chigumbura and the way he batted at the end. There are areas of improvement for us, which we'll look at and come back hard."