#CWC15: Pakistan clinch first win over Zimbabwe but don’t impress

MATCH 23: Pakistan clinched their first points at the Cricket World Cup with a 20 run win over Zimbabwe.

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Pakistan are still nowhere near top gear, but will take heart from a much improved performance against a Zimbabwe team that have been more competitive in this tournament than many thought.

“It was really tough as we were in a must-win situation,” said Misbah-ul-Haq. “You can’t believe how happy we are!

“The pitch wasn’t easy and it was a bit two-paced,” he continued. “When I went in, I found it really difficult to rotate the strike.

“I was hoping to get to 250 - 260,” he added. “The quality we have in our bowling line up shone through.

“Credit should be given to the fast bowlers. When there is extra bounce, Irfan is a bowler who can make it really difficult for the batsmen. We need to really improve our batting lineup and get more runs on the board.”

Wahab Riaz celebrates

Misbah’s 120-ball 73 had been the glue for Pakistan’s innings. Wahab Riaz hit 54 to give Pakistan a total that it had to work hard to defend. He then bowled well alongside Mohammad Irfan (4 for 30) to derail Zimbabwe’s reply.

With only 235 on the scoreboard, Irfan’s bowling on a fast and bouncy track was vital in for Pakistan. Chamu Chibhabha and Sikandar Raza were beaten for pace and caught by Haris Sohail at second slip to see Zimbabwe 22 for 2 in the seventh over.

A 52-run partnership for the third wicket between Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza kept Zimbabwe alive, but Irgan returned and with his second ball Masakadza mistimed a drive and lobbed a chance to Misbah at mid-off. Sean Williams was missed by the keep when on 11 after bagging two fours off Irfan and Zimbabwe were well in contention after 25 overs at 105 for three.

Taylor reached his personal fifty from 69 balls, but just as the fourth wicket partnership threatened to seal the deal Tayor was strangled down the legside. The partnership had been worth 54 from 49 balls, but with Taylor gone Pakistan reasserted control.

Williams (33 from 32) cut at a ball that didn’t allow sufficient space off Rahat and Ahmed Shehzad too the catch at point and then the powerplay, as so often, did more for the bowling team than the batting. Solomon Mire nicked Irfan behind, Ervine slashed at Wahab and Tawanda Mupariwa nicked off to give Akmal three more catches. Zimbabwe were faltering badly at 168 for eight.

Elton Chigumbura, who had injured his quadriceps in Pakistan’s innings, got Zimbabwe closer than anticipated as he added 47 from 59 balls with Tinashe Panyangara, but they never looked like getting their side over the line, Zimbabwe ending 215 all out with two balls to go.

Earlier Shahid Afridi, on his 35th birthday, scored his 29th ODI duck as Pakistan made heavy weather of their turn. It was ultimately enough to win this game, but if they are to be genuine contenders and revive their challenge in Pool B there needs to be significant improvement still.

“Today, the bowling was much better,” Chigumbura said after the game. “We executed well, but gave away too many extras. It’s always disappointing to lose a game like this when you think you have a good chance of winning. I think our weakness has been no-one scoring hundreds or batting through.”

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James Buttler

James has been working as a journalist and broadcaster in cricket since 2006 and was an avid fan for many years before that.
As the editor of World Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
He is also the presenter of the Cricket Badger Radio Show on Radio Yorkshire every Tuesday evening between 7-9pm UK time.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author, a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications and a complete cricket badger!

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