Pakistan claim 131-run win as spinners take 10 wickets, with Yasir claiming six.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah returned career-best figures of 6-26 to claim the man of the match as Pakistan routed Zimbabwe — who were utterly unable to cope with Pakistan’s spinners — by 131 runs in the first of three ODIs at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 260 after a century stand between Mohammad Rizwan and Imad Wasim had rescued the Pakistan innings, Zimbabwe were bowled out for just 128 with Yasir claiming six, part-time off-spinner Shoaib Malik claiming three and left-arm spinner Imad Wasim claiming the remaining one.
The hosts had gained the upper hand in the morning by winning the toss and reducing Pakistan to 128-5, but Rizwan and Imad added 124 for the sixth wicket to set the hosts a tricky target on a pitch that wasn’t too friendly to the batsmen.
The visitors were particularly poor early on and lost their top three in the first 10 overs, and were in trouble at 3-35. Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib then steadied the ship with a 65-run stand that was broken when John Nyumbu hit timber as Shoaib missed with wild slog.
From there it went from bad to worse for Pakistan when Sarfraz found Sean Williams at deep midwicket off Graeme Cremer.
The visitors looked like they may struggle to reach 200 but both Rizwan and Imad ended up scoring at a-run-a-ball on a dry surface, with Rizwan finishing unbeaten on 75 off 74 balls and Imad run out for 61 off 61 balls in the final over of the innings.
Zimbabwe attempted to build their reply with a steady start, but Imad struck off his very first ball in the ninth over.
With the run-rate beginning to climb ominously, Yasir struck in his first and third overs before going on to run through the middle order. The 29-year-old will be especially fond of Harare. “I made my debut here,” he said. “I was happy to come back and play this way. I have been practicing very hard.”
Home skipper Elton Chigumbura agreed after the match that the visitors used the slow conditions to their advantage more than them. “They are using these conditions better than us, especially with their spinners,” he admitted. “The next game is very important to bounce back and stay in this series.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.
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