Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat orchestrated Pakistan’s best ever first-wicket partnership in ODIs as they romped to a 10-wicket triumph at Harare Sports Club yesterday to take an unassailable 2-0 win in the three-match series.
Triumphant by a tight margin in the series opener and entirely dominant yesterday, the tourists racked up an unassailable two-nil lead in the three-match affair.
Chasing an average target after Hamilton Masakadza’s 68 and Brendan Taylor’s 50 had carried the home side to 225 for six; Hafeez and Farhat put together a near flawless stand to surpass the 204 Saeed Anwar and Rameez Raja racked up against New Zealand in Sharjah in 2004.
With 19 fours and a six between them, the opening duo were unstoppable as a seven-strong home attack fetched to all corners of the ground.
The choice to draft in left arm seamer Brian Vitori ahead of spinner Greg Lamb backfired, with the seamer travelling for expensive figures when a slow bowler might’ve at least restricted the run-rate.
The right-handed Hafeez, in arguably the finest form of his seven-year international career, took his cue for a third ODI career ton – all of them this year – and his highest score en route to 139 not out from 147 balls.
While the 121 he scored against the West Indies in Bridgetown was solid and the 115 he racked up against New Zealand in Christchurch was good, yesterday’s three-figure feat surely secured his berth at the top of the Pakistan knock for the foreseeable future.
The right-handed Farhat, meanwhile, played second fiddle to the centurion on the way to a measured 75 not out from 106 balls. Back in the side after a nine-month hiatus, the talented opener basked in his first half-ton in more than a year.
The match finished in a flurry, with Hafeez in particular tucking into a slew of loose balls to bring on triumph with all of 47 deliveries to spare.
Earlier, host captain Brendan Taylor’s decision to bat first after winning the toss was brought into question as his side managed an inadequate total.
The visisting seamers bowled with great discipline on a track that merited a lot more from Zimbabwe, who ultimately had to make do with 40 to 50 runs shy of what they would’ve expected on the back of Masakadza and Taylor’s half-tons.
Tatenda Taibu and Macolm Waller, having grafted to 26 and 12 respectively, can cop blame for not kicking onto more meaningful runs.
Sohail Tanvir finished with figures of two for 33, while fellow seamer Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan bagged a scalp each.
The third and final ODI gets underway at the same venue on Wednesday with Zimbabwe fighting for nothing but national pride ahead of the two Twenty20 matches at the same venue.