Zimbabwe punched above their weight and stunned Pakistan by one run in a nail-biting T20 World Cup match at the Optus Stadium in Perth on Thursday. Defending a modest 131, Zimbabwe stifiled the Pakistani batters and picked up wickets at regular intervals to stop their fancied rivals at 129 for eight. Pakistan-born all-rounder Sikandar Raza turned the match on its head in the middle overs with figures of 3 for 25 from his four overs, which included the wickets of Shan Masood (44), Shahdab Khan (17) and Haider Ali.
Right-arm pacer Brad Evans returned with figures of 2/25, while Blessing Muzarabani (1/18) and Luke Jongwe (1/10) also picked up wickets, to help his side to an incredible win.
It was Pakistan’s second defeat in as many matches after the four-wicket loss to arch-rivals India in another thrilling contest.
For Zimbabwe, it was their first win from two matches. The African side had earlier split points with South Africa following a washout.
For the second time in the tournament, star Pakistani openers — skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan — failed to provide a good start.
Babar looked tentative before he was squared up by a seaming fuller length delivery from Evans.
An over later, Rizwan played on to the stumps a Muzarabani delivery while trying to cut a ball, which was too close to his body.
Iftikhar Ahmed, who scored a brisk fifty against India, didn’t last long either, leaving Pakistan reeling at 36 for three in 7.4 overs.
But Shan Masood held one end up and together with Shadab Khan, shared 52 runs for the fourth wicket to take Pakistan forward.
Leg-spinning all-rounder Raza had other plans, as he brought Zimbabwe back into the contest with three quick wickets, including two in the 14th over.
Raza first initiated a mishit from Shadab as he was holed out at long-off and then sent back Haider Ali for a duck.
Raza’s best moment came in his next over when he got the wicket of Masood, who was brilliantly stumped by Chakabva, as Pakistan slumped to 94 for six in 15.1 overs.
But Nawaz (22) kept Pakistan in the hunt in the company of Wasim and brought down the equation to 11 in the last over.
Nawaz started by picking up three runs and then clobbered a slower delivery from Evans over his head for a maximum.
Evans bounced back brilliantly and dismissed Nawaz in the penultimate ball to bring down the equation to three runs from the final delivery.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, though, was run out as Pakistan went for a non-existent second run in an attempt to tie the scores, handing Zimbabwe a famous win.
This was after fast bowler Wasim (4/24) and Shadab (3/23) shared seven wickets between them to derail Zimbabwe after a fine start.
Haris Rauf, who was taken to the cleaners by Virat Kohli in the penultimate over in his last match, finished with 1 for 12 from his four overs.
Zimbabwe got off to a good start after opting to bat with skipper Craig Ervine (19) and Wessly Madhevere (17) adding 42 runs off five overs for the opening wicket.
The partnership was broken by Rauf as Ervine was beaten by sheer pace, lobbing one to Wasim at short fine leg. Two balls later, Madhevere followed suit.
Milton Shumba (8) didn’t help his side’s cause either, handing a straight-forward return catch to Shadab soon after.
Sean Williams (31) and Raza (9) shared 31 runs for the fourth wicket before Shadab inflicted twin blows in the 14th over.
Shadab first cleaned up Williams as the batter went for expansive reverse sweep and then Regis Chakabva edged the next delivery which was brilliantly caught by skipper Babar Azam at the slip of the bowler’s last ball of his spell, denying him a chance to go for a hat -trick.
Another double blow in the next over of Wasim broke Zimbabwe’s backbone.
Raza once again failed to replicate his form in the qualifiers, as he was bounced out by Wasim, caught by Rauf at deep square leg fence in the next over and then Luke Jongwe was bowled in the very next ball.
Evans (19 off 15) and Ryan Burl (10 not out) played good hands towards the end.
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