Pakistan, helped by Mohammad Rizwan and Hasan Ali, staved off a stiff fight from Zimbabwe to clinch the final T20I and thereby the series after successfully defending 165.
How did Pakistan get to 165?
Through a very conventional route, of hoarding their wickets and building the score gradually after losing Sharjeel Khan inside the powerplay for 18. They had only 43 after the powerplay, and 66 after the first half of the innings. But thereafter managed to get a move on with two well-set batsmen upping the ante.
What did the duo do?
Both Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam were not in a hurry to get going after the early breakthrough. They took their time to get going, with Rizwan taking as many as 39 balls for his half-century while Azam took 44 to get to his milestone. But they put together 126 for the second wicket and gradually switched gears as the innings drew to a close.
How was the finish?
Excellent. And it was led by Rizwan, who got a fifty-plus score for the fourth time in his last seven T20I outings. While Azam accelerated after facing 20 balls, Rizwan switched gears soon after his fifty and took charge in the final five overs of the innings, targeting the onside area from square leg to deep midwicket predominantly for his big hits. He hit three sixes and scored 34 of the 54 runs that Pakistan managed during this period, and although was left nine short of a ton, he had managed to give Pakistan the perfect finish, and one that would eventually prove to be a difference.
How did it make a difference?
Because Zimbabwe came mighty close to chasing it down and creating history. They eventually fell short by 24 runs but were in the chase for a large part of the innings thanks to the strong start they got through Wesley Madhevere, who put on a 65-run stand with Tadiwanashe Marumani (35) for the second wicket. Madhevere feasted on the loose balls on offering early in the innings from Pakistan’s pacers and used the cut to good effect in the powerplay. And along with Marumani, he put Zimbabwe ahead in the chase for a large part of the innings.
Why couldn’t Zimbabwe finish it off?
In the 14th over, Zimbabwe had already put on 101/1 when Marumani chopped on an attempted pull off Mohammad Hasnain. This was followed by a collapse against Hasan Ali, who accounted for the dangerous Madhevere and Regis Chakabva (0 off 1) in the same over before getting rid of Sean Williams in the penultimate over. Finishing with excellent figures of 4/18, Hasan Ali ensured that Zimbabwe did not cross that final hurdle despite a good fight.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 165/3 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 91*, Babar Azam 52) beat Zimbabwe 141/7 in 20 overs (Wesley Madhevere 59; Hasan Ali 4-18) by 24 runs
What next for the teams?
They will engage in a two-Test series, starting on April 29, in Harare