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1st ODI: Pakistan Beat Zimbabwe in high scoring fixture

26.5.15 Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore was the setting for the 1st ODI in Pakistan after a sum total of 6 years.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat in the day/night fixture.

Pakistan line up was: Captain Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Harris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Hammad Azam, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami and Yasir Shah.

It proved to be a flat batting wicket and the batsmen helped themselves to tons of runs. It was a struggle for the bowlers, who went for lofty sixes and blistering fours.

An excellent opening stand of 170 runs was put up by Hafeez (86 runs) and Azhar Ali (79 runs), a rare occurrence given Pakistan’s poor opening partnerships during the recent past. Shoaib Malik scored an eloquent 112 off 76 balls. These were much needed runs for Shoaib, and will help cement his place in the national side.

Shoaib Malik after Century

Haris Sohail added an impressive 89 not out to propel team Pakistan to a mammoth total of375/3 from 50 overs.

In reply Zimbabwe battled hard to rack up an almost equally impressive total of 334/5. Masakadza scored 73 and Chigumbura made 117. At one stage they looked threatening, before wickets tumbled and the required run rate rose too high for the African team to capitulate on their commendable batting.

Pakistan’s bowling was generally expensive, with only Wahab Riaz standing out with 3/47.

Pakistan won by 41 runs, to maintain their unbeaten run against Zimbabwe. It is vital for Pakistan to win the next two ODIs to stand a chance at qualifying for the next Champions Trophy in 2017.

There are many positives for Pakistan, Azhar Ali is establishing himself as a competent one day batsman and captain. Other players are also finding their form. However we shouldn’t raise our expectations too quickly, as the team would still struggle against a higher quality side. Remember it was only a few weeks ago that Bangladesh beat Pakistan 3-0 in an ODI series.

Yet again we have to thank our Zimbabwean friends for coming to Pakistan and playing entertaining cricket. The tour has provided the players and supporters a unique opportunity to enjoy a home series on Pakistani soil.

Man of the Match was Shoaib Malik.

Next Match: 2 ODI, 4pm Friday 29th May. Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.

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