Pakistan’s pace destroyed Zimbabwe to set up a humiliating 201-run win in the first of five ODIs to be played in Bulawayo.
Having decided that chasing was their strength, and sending Pakistan in to bat, Zimbabwe were faced with a victory target of 309, which was based on a solid 128 from Imam-ul-Haq.
Within 15 overs, Zimbabwe’s top five had departed with just 55 on the board. The wickets were shared between Usman Khan (2-21), Faheem Ashraf (2-14) and Hasan Ali (1-6).
It was then left to Shadab Khan to clean up the tail with his leg breaks, picking up four wickets for 32 runs off nine overs. Pakistan won with 15 overs to spare. The best performance came from debutant Ryan Murray, who scored 32 off 69.
The learning curve for Zimbabwe, after losing five experienced players to a pay dispute, continues to be steep.
They had placed their faith in their bowling attack, but even with the Pakistanis preserving their wickets by edging their way to 36 in the power play, the lack of penetration enabled the visitors to put on 113 in 24 overs before the first wicket fell.
Fakhar Zaman went for 60 to a caught-and-bowled by Liam Roche, an off-break spinner who has played just six List A matches.
Imam-ul-Haq remained the anchor of the innings, accumulating 11 fours off the 134 balls he faced, until he was fourth out for 128, with the score on 268 after 45 overs. In between, Babar Azam (30 off 34) and Shoaib Malik (22 off 22) had come and gone. It wasn’t exactly a blazing innings, but Asif Ali made up for it with 46 off 25 balls, enabling Pakistan to pass 300.
It has been a miserable few weeks for Zimbabwe, who lost every game in the triangular T20 series played with Pakistan and Australia over the past two weeks.
After this series, Zimbabwe are due to play three ODIs and three T20s against South Africa from 30 September to 14 October.
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