• Imam leads Pakistan clean sweep

    Pakistan, as expected, made a clean sweep of five out of five in the ODI series when they beat Zimbabwe by 131 runs in Bulawayo on Sunday.

    It was, at least, Zimbabwe’s best showing, after being set a target of 365 to win, with openers Hamilton Masakadza (34) and Tinashe Kamunhukamwe (34), in only his second ODI, putting on 66 for the first wicket. But the lack of depth and skill surfaced rapidly, as they laboured their way to 233-4.

    Their ‘victory’ lay in the fact they avoided being bowled out for the first time in the series; their lowest point being the 67 they scored in the third ODI and their previous high being 194. Rookie Ryan Murray scored his ODI best of 47 off  70 balls, with two fours and two sixes.

    For Pakistan, it was more a matter of breaking records and enhancing averages against the inexperienced and wholly outclassed hosts, who were missing several senior players through pay disputes and injury.

    Fakhar Zaman became the fastest player to 1,000 ODI runs, needing just 20 in this match to reach the target in 18 matches. That beat the previous record by three, held by Quinton de Kock, alongside Kevin Pietersen, Viv Richards, Jonathan Trott and Babar Azam. When he edged behind off Liam Roche, he had scored 455 runs since his last dismissal; 50 runs clear of the previous record, held by Mohammad Yousuf.

    Incidentally, at the other end of the scale, Shoaib Malik walked a single to reach 7,000 runs, but as the fourth slowest behind Steve Waugh, Saleem Malik and Younis Khan to reach that mark, in 266 matches.

    Imam-ul-Haq registered his third century of the series as he and Fakhar put on 168 for the opening wicket in 25 overs. Azam added another hundred as Pakistan powered their way to 364-4 after 50 overs.

    If there is anything to be said for the Zimbabwe bowling, it is that they did not allow Pakistan to reach 400; a target they missed by one in the previous match on the same strip at Queen’s ground, in Bulawayo. That, though, may have more to say about Pakistan’s inability to accelerate than about Zimbabwe’s bowling.

    Zimbabwe must now regroup and prepare for their tour of South Africa, in which they will play three ODIs and three T20s in October.