Williams’ fighting fifty in vain as Pakistan clinch series
Zimbabwe – 206 all out in 45.1 overs (Sean Williams 75, Brendan Taylor 36, Brian Chari 25; Iftikhar Ahmed 5/40, Muhammad Musa 2/21, Faheem Ashraf 1/30). Pakistan – 208-4 in 35.2 overs (Babar Azam 77*, Imam-ul-Haq 49, Haider Ali 29; Tendai Chisoro 2/49, Sikandar Raza 1/23, Sean Williams 1/31). Pakistan won by six wickets
Sean Williams shored up Zimbabwe’s innings with a belligerent 75, but the team total was hardly enough to trouble Pakistan who eased to a six-wicket victory in the second one-day international (ODI) match played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
With the win, the hosts have sealed the three-match series having taken an unassailable 2-0 lead following their 26-run victory in the first game. While the opening ODI was a closely fought encounter that could have gone either way, Pakistan comfortably dominated the second.
Zimbabwe won the toss this time round and opted to bat, but they were in early trouble after skipper Chamu Chibhabha nicked a rising delivery into the gloves of the wicketkeeper. He had faced eight balls and his dismissal for six, including one boundary, left the tourists on 18 for one in the sixth over.
The next man in, Craig Ervine, did not last long either – he was beaten by pace and, as he tried to play away from the body, chopped on to depart for three off 13 deliveries. In the 16th over, Zimbabwe were reeling at 59 for three after Brian Chari, the other opening batsman, charged down the wicket and tried to play a pull shot, only to gift a simple catch to deep square leg.
His innings had shown so much promise as he carted one over the rope and smashed three fours before he was dismissed for 25, having faced 46 balls. This left Brendan Taylor and Williams to pick up the pieces. As the situation rightly demanded, the pair got the repair-work underway aggressively, taking Imad Wasim to the cleaners in his first over of the day from which he conceded 17 runs.
First, Taylor went for a slog sweep and connected well over midwicket for a big six. Then Williams got off the mark in style, driving wide of a diving mid-off fielder for four, before signing off the same over by sweeping the ball all the way over square leg for a six.
For nearly 10 overs, the early wobble was forgotten as the duo – who accelerated the run rate by finding the boundary regularly and rotating the strike well – gave Zimbabwe real hope of posting a competitive total. The tourists were however dealt a major blow when the 61-run stand was broken to reduce them to 120 for four in the 26th over.
Taylor, who had shone with 112 in the first ODI, attempted to sweep over the fence again only for him to hole out to deep square leg and depart for a 45-ball 36 that included three fours and two sixes.
That brought in Wessly Madhevere, a precocious talent who registered a career-best 55 in the series opener. However, this time round he could not repeat his heroics with the willow after he charged down the wicket but mistimed his shot, lofting it into the hands of a diving fielder at long-on.
Madhevere went back to the pavilion having scored 10, with two boundaries, off 15 deliveries. Before his dismissal, which left Zimbabwe’s innings flailing again at 138 for five in the 30th over, Williams had brought up his fifty. Sikandar Raza then came in with an opportunity to redeem himself but, just like in the first match, he failed to sparkle again when his side needed him the most. He could only make two runs off the eight deliveries he faced before gifting a return catch to the bowler.
Soon after the team 150 came up in the 33rd over, Zimbabwe lost the wicket of Tendai Chisoro for seven after he was trapped leg before wicket. Eager to give his side a decent total – having watched four wickets falling on the other end for 30 runs in the space of eight overs – Williams went on the offensive again.
With Carl Mumba giving him support at the other end, Williams added 20 runs to his score off 14 deliveries before his impressive knock came to an end after he lofted the ball straight to long-off to leave his side eight down in the 38th over.
His 75, with 10 boundaries and one six, came off 70 deliveries. When Williams departed, Zimbabwe were still 29 runs shy of the 200 mark. The tail, however, hung on to add 35 more runs before the innings folded at 206 in 45.1 overs.
Blessing Muzarabani’s cameo with the bat was particularly impressive as he smashed 17 runs, including one four and a single six, while Mumba chipped in with 11, to give the total a modicum of respectability. Iftikhar Ahmed was the destroyer-in-chief as he bagged five wickets.
Pakistan hardly had to break a sweat in chasing down the target, with their captain Babar Azam’s unbeaten 77 guiding them to a comfortable six-wicket victory within 36 overs. Chisoro claimed two of the four wickets that fell, with Raza and Williams getting one apiece.
The third and final ODI of this series – which is part of the inaugural Super League that is serving as the main route for qualification for the 2023 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup in India – will be played at the same venue on Tuesday.