Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE failed to build on their good performances in the field yesterday as they went down by 13 runs to Pakistan in the first QMobile Twenty20 cricket match at Harare Sports Club. The hosts were involved a disappointing chase despite having made a bright start when restricting Pakistan to 136-8 inside their 20 overs.
But the familiar batting woes returned to haunt them as they lost wickets at regular intervals on their way to a total of 123-9. A fiery bowling spell by Pakistan’s Imad Wasim which claimed four wickets for only 11 runs left Zimbabwe’s hopes in tatters. Dav Whatmore’s men now need to respond in a big way tomorrow to get something out of the two-match series.
Zimbabwe had hoped to begin the series on a good footing but they blew a golden chance. They got themselves in a difficult position yesterday with a poor batting performance. Despite their shaky innings, they always kept the appreciative fans believing. Then the anticlimax came in the last over when they needed 16 runs with skipper Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya on the crease.
This looked a possible feat with two experienced batsmen left to shoulder the responsibility. The supporters had not given up as well and they kept on cheering. But to their disappointment, Zimbabwe lost their leading light in skipper Chigumbura (31) off the first ball of the 20th over and that is when all the little hopes they had were crushed.
Chigumbura, a victim of an unfortunate run out, knew they could have done better. Earlier, Pakistan had won the toss and decided to bat on a tricky patch. Their captain Shahid Afridi’s fears about the wicket which he had said was “difficult to read” in an earlier interview almost got confirmation. The tourists were already in a spot of bother as early as the sixth over after losing three wickets with 29 runs on the board.
Zimbabwe all rounder Chamu Chibhabha had done the damage after removing the top three batsmen. He had both openers Ahmed Shehzad (17) and Mukhtar Ahmed (4) back to the pavilion in a sensational third over before Sohaib Maqsood (6) followed suit. The middle order, however, managed to get some more runs with Shoaib Malik top scoring for the tourists with 35 runs from 24 deliveries to get the Most Colourful Innings award.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Mahommad Rizwan also made a commendable contribution as he weighed in with 33 runs. Luke Jongwe made his debut for Zimbabwe and took his first wicket in a two-over spell that leaked only nine runs. Chibhabha had the best bowling figures for Zimbabwe with 3-18 inside his three overs.
Sean Williams, Tinashe Panyangara and Graeme Cremer also got a wicket each to give Zimbabwe some hope at the innings break. But Pakistan bowled tightly and the hosts were in all sorts of problems from the first over when Imad Wasim claimed the first wicket after beating Chibhabha for nought.
Wasim was the hero for Pakistan after claiming the wickets of both openers Chibhabha and Hamilton Masakadza (25) before returning to claim the important wickets of Sikandar Raza (13) and Sean Williams (14). Chigumbura finished as the top scorer for Zimbabwe. His ninth wicket partnership of 31 runs with Utseya (12) was Zimbabwe’s best yesterday but they still fell short.