Zimbabwe register their first victory over Pakistan in more than five years after the third ODI between the two teams was decided through a sealing Super Over as fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani came up with the performance of his life.
In one of the most dramatic matches in recent times, Zimbabwe recovered from an early set backs to put up a challenging 278-6 after they elected to bat first in Rawalpindi. It seemed Zimbabwe, whose cricket has been on a downward spiral, were going to shock Pakistan through an easy way reducing the hosts to 88-5 inside 18 overs.
But skipper Babar Azam hit a ton and brought two crucial partnerships before the dramatic two final overs resulted in Pakistan making 278-9 in 50 overs.
Muzarabani, who had taken five wickets in the Pakistani innings, repaid for the trust in Super Over dismissing Iftikhaar Ahmed and Khushdil Shah leaving Zimbabwe with just three to win. Pakistan brought Shaheen Shah Afridi and the visitors negotiated well with the target through experienced Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza.
It was Zimbabwe’s first victory over Pakistan after defeating them in a home series in Harare in 2015.
In Pakistan chase, two wickets each from Richard Ngarawa and Donal Tiripano saw the hosts lose half of their men with not even 90 runs on the board. Babar began the resurrection with a 63-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Iftikhaar (33).
Muzarabani broke the partnership but Babar continued his sublime innings and got involved in a crucial century stand with Wahab Riaz. With just 38 runs more to get from last 20 deliveries, Muzarabani got rid of Riaz to bring Zimbabwe back in the game.
Pakistan, however, had their skipper Babar standing firm and 20 runs from the last 12 deliveries always seemed gettable. Muzarabani was once again the man for Zimbabwe as the fast bowler removed Shaheen Shah Afridi and ignited more hopes dismissing Babar despite being hit for six in the second ball of the 49th over.
The hosts needed 13 runs from the last over and Ngarawa managed to make it five to win from last ball although he was hit for boundary in the first delivery. Last man Muhammad Musa hit boundary to tie the match and force Super Over.
Earlier, Mohammad Hasnain tore through Zimbabwe top order reducing them to 22-3 inside eight overs. Sean Williams and Taylor then added 84 runs for the fourt wicket. Taylor made 56 off 68 with eight boundaries.
Despite Taylor’s departure, Williams held the remaining of the Zimbabwe innings adding 75 runs for the fifth wicket with Wesley Madhevere (33) and an all-important 96 runs for the sixth with Raza (45 off 36). Williams was unbeaten on 118 off 135 in an innings that included 13 fours and a six.
For Pakistan, Babar brought his 12th ODI century and was dismissed for a run-a-ball 125. He hit 13 fours and a six. Riaz’s 56-ball 52 included three sixes and as many boundaries. Man-of-the-match Muzarabani took 5-49 from 10 overs.