BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe (118/9; 20/20 overs), Pakistan (99 all-out(19.5/20 ov, target 119) (Zimbabwe won by 19 runs)
ON Wednesday, the Zimbabwe national cricket team surprised and shocked their fans after losing a match that looked well in their grasp and yesterday they turned it around by winning a match that looked lost even before the halfway stage.
Pakistan appeared well on course to register a convincing series win after bowling out Zimbabwe for a paltry 118 runs before the hosts pulled off an incredible comeback with the ball to win the second Twenty20 International (T20I) by 19 runs at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
After coming agonisingly coming short in the first match on Tuesday and putting on a poor batting display yesterday, the Chevrons appeared to have blown another chance to finally break their duck against Pakistan in T20Is.
But in spectacular turnaround, the Chevrons crawled their way back as they defended a seemingly partly 118 runs — the lowest T20I total defended at Harare Sports Club, to register a historic victory and keep the three-match series alive at one-all ahead of the series decider at the same venue on tomorrow.
All-rounder Luke Jongwe was the star of an all-round bowling performance for Zimbabwe as he stifled the Pakistan batsmen with career best bowling figures of four wickets for just 18 runs in 3.5 over to help bowl out Pakistan for 99 all-out in 19, 5 overs.
Earlier, Zimbabwe had appeared on course to a crushing defeat after labouring to 118 for nine in their allotted 20 overs after being sent in to bat first.
With the bat the hosts never managed to recover after losing the precious wicket of Taylor for just five runs in the fourth over as they lost wickets at regular intervals.
Tinashe Kamunhukwamwe top-scored with 34 runs from 40 balls, but his innings appeared set to be for a losing cause as he used up 40 deliveries while the next best contribution was Regis Chakabva’s 18 off 14 deliveries.
Former Zimbabwe Under-19 stars Tadiwa Marumani and Wesley Madhevere also chipped in with 13 and 16 runs respectively, but everything appeared pointing towards a convincing win by the tourists as a possible series win.
Zimbabwe, however, had other ideas as they bowled accurately from the onset with the inspired Jongwe having Pakistan on the back foot almost immediately after some early pressure from the duo of Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava.
The rejuvenated all-rounder, who almost delivered a win for Zimbabwe with bat in hand in the first match, claimed the crucial wickets of the match-winner in the first match Mohammad Rizwan (13 off 18 balls) and the dangerous Pakistan captain Babar Azam, who top scored for 41 off 45 balls.
After setting the platform for victory, Jongwe, was entrusted by the stand-in captain Brendan Taylor to bowl the final over and he repaid the faith of his skipper in him by claiming a further two wickets and completing while not conceding a single run from five deliveries.
The 26-year-old will begin the third and deciding T20 on a hattrick after claiming the wickets of Arshad Iqbal and Haris Rauf with his last two deliveries.
Unlike in the first match when, they were poor in the field and dropped three catches, Zimbabwe were far more clinical in the second match as they bowled and fielded as a unit to put pressure on their opponents.
Stand-in skipper was full of praises for his charges for managing to turn the match around.
“Big turnaround from the first game. They were very professional in the field and the bowlers had clear minds and executed their plans perfectly. I can’t say I was confident but the character shown was great. We dug deep, we managed to squeeze Pakistan and our commitment got us over the line. As a batting unit, we need to fire a little more in the powerplay. We feel they are a stronger bowling unit than a batting unit, and if we get 140-150, we can challenge them,” Taylor said.
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