Records tumbled as Pakistan smashed Zimbabwe by 131 runs in the fifth and final one-day international (ODI) in Bulawayo to secure a comprehensive series whitewash yesterday.
Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam both recorded impressive centuries as Pakistan biffed 364/4 to set up another daunting chase for Zimbabwe, who managed 233/4 in reply.
In the final game of the series, Pakistan opted to bat, sticking to the successful formula of the record breaking fourth ODI
The visitors, who beat Zimbabwe in the first four ODIs in formidable fashion, made three team changes, allowing Mohammad Nawaz a slice of the action – the only bowler yet to play a match in this series – while Mohammad Amir and Hassan Ali returned to replace Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah and Usman Khan.
Zimbabwe also made multiple changes. Liam Roche, Christopher Mpofu and Prince Masvaure came into the side, with Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Chisoro and, surprisingly, Tarisai Musakanda omitted.
Pakistan got off to an unusually quiet start with the first boundary coming off the fifth over, with Chris Mpofu hitting the bat hard and causing Zaman a problem or two.
But it wasn’t long until Zaman found his groove and became the quickest man in the history of one-day internationals to reach 1 000 runs, reaching the milestone in just 18 innings – three innings quicker than Viv Richards, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Quinton de Kock and Babar Azam, who previously shared the record.
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A fantastic achievement, of course, but many of those runs have been plundered against a Zimbabwe side that has not threatened to win a match in this five-match series. Sterner tests are to come for the Pakistan opener, but it’s been a superb introduction to ODI cricket nonetheless.
Imam ul-Haq and Zaman found their feet as the innings progressed and by the 20th over had dragged Pakistan to 127 without loss. Zaman really started to cut loose but fell for 85 when Liam Roche, the man who got him in the first ODI, found the edge. The opener had scored 455 runs since the last time he was dismissed.
Iman and Zaman have now added 705 runs in this series, with four 100-plus stands. No other pair in history has accomplished this.