Zimbabwe go down to Pakistan in women’s first one-dayer

Pakistan Women – 225-6 in 50 overs (Javeria Khan 81, Aliya Riaz 74, Omaima Sohail 29; Nomvelo Sibanda 2/28, Esther Mbofana 2/42, Tasmeen Granger 1/58). Zimbabwe Women – 77 all out in 34.1 overs (Pellagia Mujaji 16, Precious Marange 13, Chiedza Dhururu 8; Sadia Iqbal 2/8, Nida Dar 2/9, Fatima Sana 2/16). Pakistan Women won by 178 runs

A magnificent fifth-wicket partnership of 157 between Pakistan Women captain Javeria Khan and Aliya Riaz was the main factor in their big 178-run victory over Zimbabwe Women in the first one-day match at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.

The home side had appeared to hold their own up to that point, but this fine partnership turned the match and set the Zimbabweans a target they could not challenge.

This was backed up by excellent pace and spin bowling that was beyond the experience of the Zimbabwean players. After early-morning rain, the weather cleared remarkably for the start of this match and Zimbabwe won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat.

The tourists lost their first wicket with 11 on the board when Mineeba Ali (4) slashed a ball from Nomvelo Sibanda low to backward point, where Ashley Ndiraya picked up a brilliant catch.

At 44, Ayesha Zafar (14) was trapped lbw by Esther Mbofana, in the 10th over, and then Omaima Sohail miscalculated and ran herself out for 19, making the score 63 for three.

Pakistan were 82 for four when Tasmeen Granger had Nida Dar lbw for 15 in the 19th over, but then a good partnership developed between Khan and Riaz. The Zimbabwe bowling began to wilt as the batsmen flourished.

A four through the covers off a widish ball from Granger took Khan to her fifty off 84 balls. The century partnership was passed and Riaz brought up her own fifty off 69 balls, and the team 200 at the same time, in the 43rd over.

Khan at this stage became rather bogged down, or tired, and the great partnership finally came to an end as she swung a catch to square leg off Mbofana. Khan made 81 of a partnership worth 157 runs, and the score was now 239 for five in the 48th over; she faced 116 balls and hit eight fours.

Riaz, her concentration perhaps broken, was bowled by Nomvelo Sibanda for 74 off the very next delivery; she hit a six and six fours off 87 balls. The innings came to an end for the fine total of 255 for six wickets, with Sidra Nawaz and Fatima Sana both unbeaten with eight.

Zimbabwe’s most effective bowler was the opening seamer Sibanda, who surprisingly only bowled eight overs of a possible 10 and took two wickets for 28. Mbofana took two for 42 off nine overs.

On the whole, the bowling was not very accurate in length or direction, probably a sign of a shortage of recent match practice for the players, while nerves also may have played a part. It would be a testing target for Zimbabwe — if the rain allowed, as there were signs of an oncoming storm; fortunately it avoided the ground.

Ndiraya and Chiedza Dhururu opened the batting for Zimbabwe, and Ndiraya got off the mark with a lucky four that was a sharp but definite chance to slip.

However, she was soon given out lbw to Diana Baig for five, with the score on 13. Dhururu (8) soon followed, clean-bowled by a beautiful ball from Sana that moved back in and knocked out her middle and off stumps.

The Pakistani pace bowlers seemed to have rather more pace and lift than the Zimbabwe players have been used to, and they found them difficult to play. The score became 20 for three, as captain Mary-Anne Musonda fell lbw to Sana without scoring.

For a while Modester Mupachikwa and Pellagia Mujaji simply concentrated on keeping their wickets intact and seeing off the opening bowlers. When the off-spinner Nida Dar came in, though, Mupachikwa became the third to get her pads in the wrong place and was lbw for a dogged four off 25 balls; 40 for four.

Mujaji was yet another lbw victim as she fell to the left-arm spinner Nashra Sandhu for 16, the only score in double figures so far and destined to be the highest score of the innings, as the team struggled to 42 for five in the 18th over.

The Zimbabwe players were finding the Pakistani spinners no more obliging than the pace bowlers. Josephine Nkomo (1) was caught at the wicket off Dar, and after that only Precious Marange did much to disturb the bowlers, scoring 13, including a drive that almost carried for six, before being run out.

The final wicket fell when Sibanda was given out caught down the leg side, the total being 77, scored in 34.1 overs. Sana, Dar and Sadia Iqbal all took two cheap wickets.

The Zimbabweans undoubtedly suffered seriously for their unavoidable shortage of preparation for this tour, and it is to be hoped that the lessons they have had in this match will strengthen them for the series to come.