Iftikhar, Babar star as Pakistan secure series win over Zimbabwe

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Rawalpindi: Iftikhar Ahmed’s off-spin magic and skipper Babar Azam’s high-class batting helped Pakistan to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series over Zimbabwe at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

The 30-year-old Iftikhar claimed his maiden five-wicket haul while Babar smashed an unbeaten 77 run-knock in 207 chase to hand Pakistan their eighth consecutive win in this format.

Earlier, Zimbabwe stumbled to 206 in 45.1 over after winning the toss. Iftikhar took 5/40 in his quota of ten overs while debutant Musa Khan picked 2/21.

Iftikhar’s dismissals were¬†Brendan Taylor, Wesley Madhevere, Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chisoro, Sean Williams.

Zimbabwe lost captain Chamu Chibhabha in the fifth over. Haris Rauf claimed his first wicket in ODI format.

Later, debutant Musa Khan picked his first wicket on the second delivery in this format. He dismissed Craig Ervine who got an inside edge that hit back to the stumps.

Opener Brian Chari looked better at the top, however, he got a leading edge off Faheem Ashraf in the 19th over. He made 25 off 46 balls.

After three dismissals, Sean Williams and last match hero Brendan Taylor started to up the scoring rate and posted a 50-run stand in just 40 balls.

Iftikhar removed Taylor (36) on 120-4 to bring a massive collapse. Zimbabwe lost the last seven wickets off 86 runs.

Williams was the key-run getter, scoring 75 runs off 70 balls which included ten fours and a six. Blessing Muzarabani scored a crucial 17 in the latter part of the innings.

Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, and Faheem Ashraf picked one each. Surprisingly, Shaheen Shah Afridi went wicketless.

The opening duo of Imam-ul-Haq and Abid Ali provided a positive start to the run chase, scoring 68-runs in the first powerplay.

In the 11th over, Abid was removed by Chisoro as played a powerful shot straight into the hand of Ervine.

Imam was accompanied by skipper Babar. Imam got out courtesy of brilliant review by the visitors. A slightest of edge made Imam depart on the score of 49, which included five fours.

Babar was joined by emerging batsman Haider Ali, who as expected started to score runs at a better rate. But his aim of scoring a fifty on debut was diminished as he was trapped by Williams in front while playing a paddle sweep. He made 24-ball 29 which included two massive sixes and a four.

Green shirts lost keeper Mohamad Rizwan soon after Haider’s dismissal. Rizwan tried to play a reverse sweep, however, his innovation failed as he completely missed the ball.

Then Babar cruised his side towards the victory with his brilliance. He raced to his 16th ODI fifty in just 45 balls. His innings of 77* included seven fours and two sixes. Iftikhar also remained unbeaten on 16.

It must be noted that with this win, Pakistan has won the series 2-0. Both teams will now lock horns on Tuesday at the same venue.

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