Zimbabwe beat their weight in a thrilling T20 World Cup match at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Thursday, stunning Pakistan with a run. Zimbabwe defended a modest 131, smothering the Pakistani batters and periodically picking up wickets to stop their coveted rivals at 129 for eight. Pakistani-born all-rounder Sikandar Raza turned the game upside down in the middle overs with numbers 3 to 25 from his four overs, including wickets from Shan Masood (44), Shahdab Khan (17) and Haider Ali.
Right pacesetter Brad Evans returned with numbers of 2/25 while Blessing Muzarabani (1/18) and Luke Jongwe (1/10) also took wickets to help their side to an incredible win.
It was Pakistan’s second loss in as many games after losing by four wickets to arch-rivals India in another thrilling game.
It was Zimbabwe’s first win in two games. The African side had previously shared points with South Africa after a washout.
For the second time in the tournament, the opening stars of Pakistan – skippers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan – did not get off to a good start.
Babar looked hesitant before being surprised with a full length delivery by Evans.
An over later, Rizwan played a delivery from Muzarabani to the stumps while trying to slice a ball that was too close to his body.
Iftikhar Ahmed, who scored a brisk 50 against India, didn’t last long either, leaving Pakistan 36 to 3 in 7.4 overs.
But Shan Masood held one end, sharing 52 runs with Shadab Khan for the fourth wicket to put Pakistan ahead.
All-rounder Raza had other plans as he brought Zimbabwe back into contention with three quick wickets, including two in the 14th over.
Raza first initiated a miss from Shadab when he was holed out on a long-off, then sent Haider Ali back for a duck.
Raza’s best moment came in his next over when he took the wicket from Masood, who was brilliantly caught off guard by Chakabva as Pakistan slumped to 94 for six in 15.1 overs.
But Nawaz (22) kept Pakistan in the hunt in the company of Wasim, bringing the equation down to 11 in the final over.
Nawaz initially collected three runs and then maxed a slower delivery from Evans over his head.
Evans hit back brilliantly, dismissing Nawaz in the penultimate ball to reduce the equation to three runs from the last delivery.
However, Shaheen Shah Afridi was eliminated when Pakistan tried to level the points in a nonexistent second heat, giving Zimbabwe a famous victory.
That came after fast bowler Wasim (4/24) and Shadab (3/23) shared seven wickets between them to derail Zimbabwe after a good start.
Haris Rauf, who was brought to the cleaners by Virat Kohli in the penultimate over in his last match, finished the game 1-12 from his four overs.
Zimbabwe got off to a good start after opting to bat with skipper Craig Ervine (19) and Wessly Madhevere (17), adding 42 runs from five overs for the opening wicket.
The partnership was cut short by Rauf when Ervine was beaten by sheer speed and a short fine leg lobbed Wasim. Madhevere followed two balls later.
Milton Shumba (8) didn’t help his side’s cause either, handing a direct return to Shadab shortly after.
Sean Williams (31) and Raza (9) shared 31 runs for the fourth wicket before Shadab missed two shots in the 14th over.
Shadab first cleaned up Williams as the batsman made an expansive backswing, and then Regis Chakabva prevailed against the next delivery, brilliantly caught by skipper Babar Azam when the bowler’s last ball slipped, denying him a chance to tie a hat do -trick.
Another brace in the next over by Wasim broke Zimbabwe’s spine.
Raza again failed to replicate his form in the qualifiers as he was thrown out by Wasim, caught by Rauf on the deep square leg fence in the next over and then bowled into Luke Jongwe’s next ball.
Evans (19 of 15) and Ryan Burl (10 not out) played good hands towards the end.
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