Sports

The Zimbabweans are here!

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Sports|November 1, 2020

International cricket has once again resumed in Pakistan and Cricket Zimbabwe and Pakistan Cricket Board are to be commended for their efforts.

On the eve of the second ODI of the bilateral series, let’s go through some of the memorable bilateral matches between the two countries, where records tumbled and the better side emerged as the winner.

Sadly for the visitors, most of the matches discussed below ended in Pakistan’s favour, with Neil Johnson guiding Zimbabwe to a rare victory abroad in a match. Read on:

Wasim Akram’s best was too difficult for the visitors – 1993

It was a forty-over encounter where a strong Zimbabwean side faced the spirited Pakistan side that had both young and new cricketers in the playing XI. What the tourists didn’t know was that the Pakistani skipper Wasim Akram would be in a mood to wrap up the match in a hurry, and that’s why he bowled with fire and ended with five wickets for just 15 runs, his best figures in ODI cricket. Aaqib Javed and Saleem Malik were the only other wicket-takers in the Zimbabwean innings that ended at 143 runs in 38 overs. Thanks to Saeed Anwar’s 68 off 84 balls and Basit Ali’s 65-ball 41 not out, Pakistan chased the target in the 34th over, and Wasim Akram went home with the Man of the Match award.

Saqlain Mushtaq’s memorable hat-trick at home – 1996

Pakistan began the third and final match of the series on a disastrous note, with Everton Matambanadzo dismissing Shahid Afridi off his first-ever delivery in ODI cricket and debutant Zahoor Elahi following him a few overs later. Ijaz Ahmed’s fighting 117 off 105 deliveries along with Azam Khan’s 72 helped Pakistan post 264 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in 40 overs. After crowd trouble disrupted the match for more than an hour, the visitors were asked to chase a revised target of 225 runs in 34 overs. They had been cruising well at 95 runs for the loss of one wicket when Shahid Afridi struck to dismiss the promoted Paul Strang. And then off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq took over, who first dismissed top scorer Grant Flower for 77, and in the next two deliveries ended the short stay of John Rennie and Andy Whittall at the crease. When he dismissed the last batsman in the match to take his tally to four wickets in five deliveries, Pakistan had won the match by 78 runs and wrapped up the series 3-0. Saqlain Mushtaq entered the record books as the first spinner to send three batsmen back to the pavilion in as many deliveries. He would go on to repeat the feat a few years later at The Oval, against the same opposition, but in a World Cup encounter in 1999.

All-round Neil Johnson stars in an unlikely victory – 1998

And then there was the Neil Johnson special; the Zimbabwean all-rounder starred in an unlikely victory for the visitors at Sheikhupura where two years ago Wasim Akram had scored his Test-best of 257 not out. Zimbabweans won the toss, and with Neil Johnson dismissing the in-form Saeed Anwar for 2 in his first over, things began to look good for the tourists. He managed to end up with two wickets as the visiting side restricted Pakistan to 211 in their 50 overs. Chasing 212 runs to win the match, Neil Johnson opened the batting, scored 101 runs for the first wicket with Grant Flower in less than 18 overs, and stroked his way to his maiden ODI century. He was the fourth batsman to be dismissed, but by that time the tourists needed just three runs to win in more than 10 overs. He was adjudged Man of the Match for his 2/51 and 103 off 120 balls.

Fakhar Zaman’s historic feat and records came tumbling after – 2019

It was raining records in Bulawayo on 20th July 2018 when Fakhar Zaman became the first Pakistani to score a double century in ODIs. Along with his opening partner Imam ul Haq, he scored a then-record 304 runs for the first wicket, then carried on till he reached 210 not out, carrying the bat and helping Pakistan post their highest innings total of 399 for the loss of one wicket. His innings was laced with 24 fours and five sixes. He faced 156 deliveries to post his career-best, in fact, the career-best among all players to represent Pakistan in ODIs. Thanks to Shadab Khan’s four wickets, the Zimbabweans were bowled out for just 155, enabling Pakistan to win the match by 244 runs.

About the author

Omair Alavi