Pakistan chased down the target of 162 that was set by Zimbabwe in their Group A game at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at the Pallekele Stadium near Kandy. Pakistan ended on 164/3 in 34.1 overs. Umar Gul was the man of the match for his good bowling.
Zimbabwe needed to win this game to have any chance of qualification for the next round but after heavy losses to Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, they wouldn’t have harboured too many hopes. Pakistan, on the other hand, were almost through to the quarter-finals but a loss here would have made that path more difficult as they would either have to beat Australia in the last game or lose by a small margin.
Chasing 162 for a win, Ahmed Shehzad’s poor run of form continued to haunt him. He made only eight but he will be disappointed by the shot he played when he tried to charge Ray Price but was stumped by the wicket-keeper Taibu.
However, playing in his first game of the tournament, Asad Shafiq joined Mohammad Hafeez and the pair took the side to the realms of safety. Hafeez fell when he was one short of his half-century but Shafiq went on to make his 50 and despite the early dismissal of Shahid Afridi (3), he ensured that the win was Pakistan’s.
It was a surprising decision by Zimbabwe to win the toss and elect to bat first, that, on a track which was evidently moist. To add to that, the conditions were overcast and one would have expected the side wanting to bowl first. Especially given that the Pakistanis have a bowling attack which can exploit the conditions rather well.
The other surprise was the playing eleven. Under such conditions, it was difficult to comprehend the rationale behind going into the game with only one medium-pacer in S Masakadza. Masakadza was playing his first game of the tournament and the two from the previous game, Tinashe Payangara and Christopher Mpofu were both consigned to the dressing room.
Zimbabwe were quickly pegged back in the very first over of the game as Brendan Taylor was dismissed by Abdul Razzaq for four. Taylor edged one to Kamran Akmal, who seemed to have overcome his catching issues and the batsman had to take the long walk back. In the very next over, Umar Gul had Regis Chakbva dismissed lbw for a duck and then, when Vusi Sibanda departed for five, the Zimbabweans looked like they were in a soup at 13/3 in the sixth over.
Tatenda Taiu added 30 with Craig Ervine but Waha Riaz sent him back to peg the side to 43/4. Ervine batted on and in partnership with the likes of Greg Lamb first and then captain Elton Chigumbura, ensured that they weren’t going to fall away for nothing.
Rain played its part in reducing the overs to 43 but with Zimbabwe’s score reading 151/7 in the 40th over, rain fell again to reduce the game to 39-a-side. Duckworth-Lewis came into the picture and Pakistan were set a total of 162 in 38 overs. Ervine made 52.
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