Vintage Wahab, Scintillating Shaheen bail out Pakistan against Zimbabwe

Zohaib Ahmed Majeed

Another trademark display of death bowling by Wahab Riaz and another five-for by Shaheen Afridi bailed out Pakistan and saved them from what could have been an ugly home defeat at the hands of the 14th-ranked Zimbabwe at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Saturday.

After a lethargic batting display saw the hosts post a modest 282-run target on a flat deck, Afridi gave Pakistan two early wickets. 

However, Zimbabwe’s middle-order pairing of Brendan Taylor and Wesley Madhevere frustrated Pakistan and their 119-run partnership for the fifth wicket appeared to have taken the match away from Pakistan.

That changed when Riaz came back in the 46th over to dismiss Madhevere (55), and together with Afridi cleaned up the African tail.

Earlier, Pakistan managed to set a modest 282-run target for Zimbabwe despite opener Imam-ul-Haq (58 off 75) and Haris Sohail's (71 off 82) super-slow innings in the middle-order that were more appropriate for Test cricket.

The pair batted at snail's pace, failed to rotated the strike and when the hard work was done, got dismissed against a Zimbabwe side that bowled with great discipline. While Sohail at least accelerated late, Imam made no such comebacks and set tone for a stop-start innings that put the pressure on lower order. It needed a late Imad Wasim cameo to put together a decent total.

End of live blog

255 all-out: Wahab Riaz picks up his fourth of the night as Pakistan win by 26 runs.

251-9 after 49 overs: Wahab Riaz catches another one - again off the bowling of Shaheen Afridi. Later, Afridi bowls out another to cap his five-for. He finishes with 5-49.

246-7 after 48 overs: Wahab Riaz is everywhere. He bowls out Sikandar Raza as Pakistan are now on top, all thanks to him and Afridi. 36 needed off 12

244-6 after 47 overs: Centurion Brendan Taylor (112 off 116) skies one as Wahab Riaz takes the catch off of Shaheen Afridi's bowling.

38 needed off 18

237-5 after 46 overs: Wahab Riaz is brought back into the attack and he does what he almost always does late in the match: bowls out the batsman. The precocious Madhevere's 55-run knock off just 61 balls comes to an end.

Taylor still remains though, and he is joined by Sikandar Raza.

234-4 after 45 overs: 

Brendan Taylor 110 (112) Wesley Madhevere 55 (59)

222-4 after 44 overs: Brendan Taylor completes his century as he becomes the Zimbabwean with most hundreds (17) across all formats. He is now one clear of the great Andy Flower.

Meanwhile, 59 needed of 36. 

219-4 after 43 overs: 50 up for Madhevere; 100 partnership up too. Zimbabwe look to be in control.

212-4 after 42 overs: 70 needed off 48

204-4 after 41 overs: Back-to-back boundaries off the final two balls brings the required run-rate down. Pressure on Pakistan.

194-4 after 40 overs: 88 needed off final 10. For comparison, Pakistan got 90 in their final 10. Taylor is in his 90s.

187-4 after 39 overs: 95 needed off 66 with 6 wickets in hand is very doable, won't you say?

Wesley Madhevere 30 (39) Brendan Taylor 89 (96

180-4 after 38 overs:

172-4 after 37 overs: 110 needed off 78 balls. Pakistan need to get rid of Taylor asap or it could get ugly for them later.

Wesley Madhevere 26 (33) Brendan Taylor 79 (90)

166-4 after 36 overs: Another excellent over by Afridi. 116 needed of 84.

163-4 after 35 overs: Haris Rauf back in the attack and bowls a decent one. Three straight unplayable outswingers that do not produce a nick.

161-4 after 34 overs: The flurry of boundaries over the last few overs forces Babar Azam to bring back Shaheen Afridi and he immediately responds. Doesn't get a wicket but gives away just two runs.

Brendan Taylor 71 (81) Wesley Madhevere 23 (24)

159-4 after 33 overs: Wesley Madhevere 22 (20) Brendan Taylor 70 (79)

151-4 after 32 overs: A swept four and a whacked 6 off the over as Taylor finds his gears.

140-4 after 31 overs: Madhevere pulls again, finds the boundary again. This pint-sized boy could be a player.

131-4 after 30 overs: Taylor top-edges, to which Wahab Riaz runs backwards, dives and doesn't get it. It would have been an easier attempt for the nearby Iftikhar Ahmed who was ignored by the charging Riaz.

128-4 after 29 overs: 20-over old Wesley Madhevere pulling Wahab Riaz for a four was the highlight of the over.

119-4 after 28 overs: Only a boundary off the over. That four brings up the half century for Brendan Taylor. 

115-4 after 27 overs: Wahab Riaz comes back into the attack and has Sean Williams caught at the back with a beautiful outswinger.

Wesley Madhevere 0 (2)Brendan Taylor 48 (61) 112-3 after 26 overs:

109-3 after 25 overs: 173 needed off 150 balls

107-3 after 24 overs: Imad Wasim does what Imad Wasim does best: contain runs and build up pressure. Just one off the over. 

175 needed from 26 overs.

106 after 23 overs: Brendan Taylor 43 (53) Sean Williams 0 (0)

99-3 after 22 overs: With runs drying up, risk is taken and that sees Ervine reverse-sweep Imad Wasim. The lefty gets caught at short third-man as Pakistan get a much-needed wicket.

98-2 after 21 overs: Rauf bowls a maiden. 184 needed off 29 overs. Doable?

98-2 after 20 overs: Mohammad Rizwan drops Ervine off of Imad Wasim's bowling.

92-2 after 19 overs: The expensive Haris Rauf is back in attack. Bowls a much tighter comeback over and gives away just a single run.

91-2 after 18 overs: Imad Wasim's spin is in attack. The left-armer bowls a tidy over as expected but Pakistan need more than that here: a wicket or two.

88-2 after 17 overs:

81-2 after 16 overs: Finally a big over for Zimbabwe as Ervine cracks back-to-back fours off of otherwise miserly Ashraf. Fifth partnership up too between the African pair.

Brendan Taylor 27 (34) Craig Ervine 35 (46)

Drinks break taken.

72-2 after 15 overs:

66-2 after 14 overs: Ashraf has given away just 8 runs in his 4 overs.

66-2 after 13 overs: Brendan Taylor 21 (27) Craig Ervine 26 (35)

62-2 after 12 overs: Ashraf's spot-on bowling is building the pressure on the African pair.

60-2 after 11 overs: Wahab Riaz replaced the excellent Afridi.

58-2 after 10 overs: Another tidy over by Ashraf.

55-2 after 9 overs: Ervine plays a lovely drive off of Afridi. The match, as of right now, is anyone's to win. Zimbabwe cannot be counted out.

46-2 after 8 overs: Rauf gets replaced by Faheem Ashraf who bowls a tidy over.

43-2 after 7 overs. More excellent work by Afridi but no wickets this time.

39-2 after 6 overs: The wayward Haris Rauf is threatening to undo Afridi's good work. He gets smacked for a couple boundaries.

29-2 after 5 overs: And just when it seemed the storm had bene weathered, it comes back in the form of Afridi, who does not get an lbw decision one ball so bowls out Chibhabha off an inside edge the next.

Brendan Taylor walks in.

28-1 after 4 overs. Chibhabha and Craig Ervine now look comfortable after having weathered the early storm.

20-1 after 3 overs:

14-1 after 2 overs: Haris Rauf gets slapped for a four off the first ball of his ODI career. He then bowls a couple of outrageous outswingers. Ball's doing all kinds of tricks and it can be extremely difficult for the Africans to survive this opening spell. However, Chibhabha manages to hit another pretty shot for four. Eventful first over by Rauf. 

2-1 after 1 over: Afridi bowls out Chari with a beautiful inswinger. With four slips waiting, he then bowls another few beauties.

0-0 Zimbabwe openers Brian Chari and captain Chimu Chibhabha are at the crease to face Shaheen Afridi.

Innings break: 

281-8 after 50 overs: Quiet final over. Imad Wasim 34 (26), Shaheen Afridi 8 (5)

276-8 after 49 overs:

261-8 after 48 overs: Wahab Riaz run out. Shaheen Afridi is in.

250-7 after 47 overs: Faheem Ashraf (23 off 16) is caught at the boundary. And that might dampen the expectations a bit. Wahab Riaz is in.

247-6 after 46 overs: 280+ is on!

233-6 after 45 overs:

224-6 after 44 overs: Imad Wasim survives a caught-behind appeal. He was given out but reviewed and earned the reprieve.

Later, Sikandar Raza bowls a no-ball and Wasim punishes him for a six. 

211-6 after 43 over: Just four runs off it.

207-6 after 42 overs: Another caught behind. Haris Sohail walks back, having done all the hard work and contributed ad 82-ball 71. 

It's over toe Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf now. After that, it's tail.

201-5 after 41 overs: Iftikhar Ahmed (12 off 14) goes for a cut shot and nicks one back to the keeper. Second wicket for Chisoro. 

Meanwhile, Haris Sohail, not the fittest cat out there, has a cramp and is getting treatment. Later in the over, he hits a four while hobbling as Pakistan bring up their 200.

191-4 after 40 overs: Finally a big over for the famished Sohail, who hits two 4s and a 6 off back-to-back deliveries. 16 off it. Sohail suddenly has 61 off 75, which doesn't look bad.

175-4 after 39 overs: Tendai Chisoro gives away just two. Best case scenario here looks like a 260 - a very gettable target in modern game even for Zimbabwe.

173-4 after 38 overs: 

Haris Sohail 45 (71), Iftikhar Ahmed 8 (5)

169-4 after 37 overs: Mohammad Rizwan (14 off 29) with a big heave, misses it and gets his stumps disturbed. Iftikhar Ahmed walks in and hits a six off the third ball he faces. Much more of the same is needed.

157-3 after 35 overs: This is almost painful viewing.

153-3 after 34 overs: Speaking of Muzarabani, he's back in the attack and again causing problems with the bounce.

Haris Sohail 38 (58), Mohammad Rizwan 10 (23)

151-3 after 33 overs: On the first ball, Sohail comes down the track and gives it a whack and almost gets caught at the boundary as Carl Mumba leaps but the ball is a little too high. Had it been Muzarabani, Sohail would have been a goner. The rest of the over is quiet.

144-3 after 32 overs: 

140-3 after 31 overs: A single run from the over. Pakistan fans are super frustrated.

139-3 after 30 overs: 20 overs remaining and Pakistan need to show some urgency right about now. Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan at the crease.

134-3 after 29 overs:

126-3 after 28 overs: This is batting at snail's pace.

124-3 after 27 overs:

121-3 after 26 overs: This is weirdest situation ever. Massive miscommunication leads to both batters running at the batting end. Sohail runs hard, Imam dives as both get back in almost at the same time. However, the run out takes place at the other end. Who is out is what the umpires are taking their time to figure out.

After almost five minutes of discussions, Imam (58 off 75) is adjudged out. Sohail survives.

118-2 after 25 overs: Run rate 4.72

112-2 after 24 overs: 

109-2 after 23 overs: Imam completes his 50 with a much-needed boundary. It comes off 64 balls. It started on the slower side but he's picking up pace now. Meanwhile, Brendan Taylor drops Sohail behind the wicket.

104-2 after 22 overs: Another quiet one. Just 3 off it.

101-2 after 21 overs: Just 2 from the over. Wesley Madhevere and Sikandar Raza are rushing and being very accurate, offering very little even to an excellent spin player such as Sohail.

99-2 after 20 overs: Spin is on from both the ends. This should be easy for Imam and Sohail.

91-2 after 18 overs: The 6'8 Muzarabani gets extra bounce and that does Azam (19 off 18) who nicks one back to the keeper. Muzarabani could be a handful in this series. He also troubles new man Haris Sohail with multiple deliveries that jump at the lefty whose natural tendency is to crouch a little.

88-1 after 17 overs: Imam 42 (55), Azam 19 (17)

82-1 after 16 overs: The mandatory drinks break!

76-1 after 15 overs: Imam 38 (51), Azam 12 (9)

SOCIAL: For those wondering how tall Blessing Muzarabani is:

So, so tall but still three inches shy of our Mohammad Irfan.

66-1 after 14 overs.

61-1 after 13 overs: Surprise, surprise! Azam comes and boundaries follow. Two in this over. One a trademark Babar Azam cover drive and the other through the on side.

52-1 after 12 overs:

47-0 after 11 overs: Abid Ali 21 (30) is out lbw. Captain Babar Azam joins in.

41-0 after 10 overs:

35-0 after 9 overs: Imam 16 (27), Abid also 16 (27)

34-0 after 8 overs: 6 runs off the very tall Blessing Muzarabani's first over. 

29-0 after 7 overs:

28-0 after 6 overs: 

22-0 after 5 overs: Imam cops one on the pad. Zimbabwe take review and the lefty barely survives as the ball, though in line, was a bit high.

17-0 after 4 overs: 11 off the over as Imam finally finds a boundary and some runs.

8 after 3 overs: Just 1 from Richard Ngarava's 2nd over. Imam has a mere 2 runs from 12 balls. 

7-0 after 2 overs: Abid Ali hits the first boundary of the series.

2-0 after 1 over: Quietish and cautious start for the hosts.

0-0 Imam-ul-Haq and Abid Ali are at the crease. 

Team news: Fakhar Zaman has been left out. Abid Ali plays instead. Haris Rauf gets his ODI debut.

Match previewAn unnecessarily honest preview as Fakhar Zaman’s beloved Zimbabwe come to town


Pak vs Zim: Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi bail out Babar Azam in 1st ODI