HOSTS Pakistan inflicted agony on Zimbabwe when they held their nerves to claim a two-wicket victory in a thrillingly contested second and final cricket T20 match which went all the way to the last three balls at Gaddafi Stadium here last night.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN LAHORE, PAKISTAN
The tourists might have won more admirers with another gallant show where they ensured full value of entertainment by refusing to be rolled over easy by their more illustrious opponents.
Zimbabwe had lost all six previous matches between the two in this format and the losing trend continued.
Captain Elton Chigumbura wanted more from his batsmen, but despite failing to improve from their first match total of 172 significantly, adding just three more this time, the bowlers rose to the occasion and ensured an uncomfortable night for their cricket crazy hosts.
Chris Mpofu and Sean Williams each took two wickets while Brian Vitori and Sikandar Raza claimed a wicket apiece, but in the end it was just not enough.
For the hosts opener Mukhtar Ahmed once again caused the damage with 62 off 40 balls.
The tourists were undone by the 142 first wicket stand and this time, they needed to rein in early.
That they did when Vitori combined with Vusi Sibanda to get rid of Ahmed Shehzad who had scored 15 runs.
But the home side’s innings soon started blossoming with Prosper Utseya conceding 14 runs in the sixth over while Graeme Cremer was milked for 19 in the next.
It is then that the prospects for a series leveller started to wilt, even though Zimbabwe did pick two wickets through Utseya, the home side fancied themselves wrapping the series off without too much fuss.
Yet the dismissal of Ahmed by Raza triggered concern, more so when he took the catch that saw the back of crowd favourite Shahid Afridi who had hit a huge six a ball earlier.
Williams thought he had picked the wicket of Kumar Akmal, but Chamu Chibhabha failed to keep his balance right at the fence besides the ball sticking. A chance gone begging.
They kept digging in and Akmal (30) fell leg before wicket to Mpofu as Zimbabwe’s chances brightened a little with the score at 152 in the 17th over.
Scant hope soon turned to real belief when Williams bowled Anwar Ali through his defences to further reduce the hosts to 155-6 in the 18th over.