Proficient Pakistan Seal Coca-Cola ODI Series

Pakistan celebrated a series whitewash with a 28 run victory over Zimbabwe, at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday. The visitors won all three matches in the Coca-Cola ODI series, in addition to the one-off Test match played in Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe made one change to their team, bringing in Kyle Jarvis for Chris Mpofu, while Pakistan made three, to give all of their squad a game with the series decided. Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first, bearing mind that the over 60% of the teams that decided to bowl first won their matches at Harare Sports Club. Superb batting saw Pakistan run up 34 runs off the first three overs, with Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat piercing the gaps for one boundary after another with ease. Then the bowlers tightened up, and the batsmen had to work harder until Hafeez pulled a ball from Brian Vitori to deep square leg to depart for 23 in the seventh over, with the score 45/1.

This was the pattern of the Pakistan innings, with periods of great strokeplay followed by times when Zimbabwe managed to pull them back within limits, although the tourists always had their noses in front. There was some brilliant Zimbabwe fielding and catching, but it was not good enough to turn the match. A low catch in the covers removed Farhat for 37, but then came a stand of 97 in 19 overs between Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq, one of the three newcomers to the team. They did not take the attack apart, but worked the ball around the field seemingly almost at will, accumulating quickly and steadily. As long as they were together, Pakistan had hopes of reaching 300.

Asad was stumped for 51, but Younus went on to make 81 off 90 balls, although dropped twice. He and Shoaib Malik were both out to superb return catches by Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura respectively in quick succession, and this scuppered the team’s chances of 300. However, Misbah-ul-Haq and Adnan Akmal kept the score moving to the eventual total of 270 for five. Chigumbura, keeping an admirable line and length, was Zimbabwe’s best bowler with two for 36.

"There were too many dot-balls at the start which made it tough for people coming in. Good teams make it tough for you to build on a platform, and Pakistan played the better cricket today. Our bowlers showed good heart in the middle and end overs, but they came out and made it difficult for us," lamented Zimbabwean captain, Brendan Taylor.

Zimbabwe struggled in the beginning against accurate bowling from Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan. Sibanda brought the chase to life, taking three fours off an over from Tanvir, and the pair stepped up a gear. Crucially, they kept their wickets intact, although there were a couple of difficult chances. They both played with much better judgment and the 100 came up without loss in the 24th over. The bad news was that the required run rate was now over 6.5.

Sibanda had just reached his fifty, which he celebrated with a six over midwicket, and then checked out for 59 with a catch straight to long-on. The opening partnership had put on 110 in 25 overs. Brendan Taylor had an early exit, nudging a catch to the keeper for 6. Chibhabha after reaching his 50 began to attack, but on 62 hit a catch to short extra cover, reducing Zimbabwe to 133 for three. With the required rate now almost eight, this put tremendous pressure on the new batsmen.

Tatenda Taibu made 27 off 26 balls before falling on the midwicket boundary to a superb catch by Younus Khan, and then Hamilton Masakadza miscued a pull to midwicket. Zimbabwe were now 179 for five, required rate over eight, and all hopes rested on Chigumbura, who had done it before. But as he settled in with Malcolm Waller the rate rose to ten for the last eight overs, a virtually impossible task even for Chigumbura, given the circumstances and the tight bowling attack. The former captain struck one four in anger and then holed out on the midwicket boundary for 9 off 15 balls, the final nail in Zimbabwe’s demise.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe have a chance to get a victory on Friday in the first of two Twenty20 matches lined up in the series.
Pakistan 270/5 (50 overs; Younis Khan 81, Chigumbura 2/36), Zimbabwe 242/9 (50 overs; Chibhabha 62, Aizaz Cheema 4/43). Pakistan win by 28 runs.

Pakistan Ease to 10-Wicket Win in 2nd ODI

Pakistan barely broke into a sweat as they eased their way to a massive 10-wicket win, and secured the series in doing so, in the 2nd ODI in Harare. The day got underway with a touch of farce as, after winning the toss, Brendan Taylor 'froze' and announced that Zimbabwe would bat - it later emerged that the intention had been to field. Put in the unenviable position of setting a target, Zimbabwe's problems with pacing an innings soon came to the fore, and on a pitch where 260 would have been a par score the side only managed 225. It wasn't for lack of wickets in hand, either - 6 were lost during the innings - but after the early losses of Vusi Sibanda (once again out to the pull shot) and Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor settled down to a lengthy 104-run partnership that was simply too slow for the conditions. When the pair finally departed, Zimbabwe also kept big-hitting Elton Chigumbura out of the game until it was too late for him to make much difference, sending Tatenda Taibu and Malcolm Waller in ahead of him.

The failure to set a par target meant that, come their turn to bat, Pakistan simply had to avoid taking any chances, and that's what they did. Chris Mpofu and Brian Vitori managed to get some early turn off the wicket but failed to make any breakthroughs; spin pairing of Prosper Utseya and Ray Price tried their best to choke the flow of runs but, faced with a low target to work with, couldn't do enough, and opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat carried their bats to complete the chase without the loss of any Pakistan wickets.

Not a good day at the office, then, and the result raises some questions over team tactics and the side selected for the day. There's one more chance for Zimbabwe to save some face, with the 3rd ODI, also in Harare, on Wednesday (14th September). Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 225/6 (50 overs; Masakadza 68, Sohail Tanvir 2/33), Pakistan 228/0 (42.1 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 139*, Imran Farhat 75*). Pakistan win by 10 wickets.

Zimbabwe Fall Agonisingly Short in 1st ODI

Zimbabwe lost the first ODI against Zimbabwe by just 5 runs, falling agonisingly short of what would have been an important win. Full scorecard below the cut. More later.
Pakistan 247/7 (50 overs; Younis Khan 78, Price 2/39), Zimbabwe 242/7 (50 overs; Taylor 84, Aizaz Cheema 3/36). Pakistan win by 5 runs.

Pakistan Secure 7-Wicket Win as Zimbabwe Blow Their Chance

After three days of hard slog that saw Zimbabwe likely to secure a draw in the second of their 'comeback' Test matches, this one against Pakistan, but a spectacular 4th-day batting collapse essentially handed the match to the visitors. It had all started so well, with Tino Mawoyo carrying his bat in the first innings, scoring an unbeaten 163 in a gritty, slow-paced innings as Zimbabwe reached 412. The Queen's Sports Club pitch was not particularly bowler-friendly, but with Zimbabwe's batsmen having difficulty picking Saeed Ajmal's occasional doosras caution was the order of the day. Pakistan didn't fare much better in reply, as Ray Price played a containing role, claiming the record for the most maiden overs bowled in an innings by a Zimbabwean, while Greg Lamb (on his Test debut) and Kyle Jarvis playing the attacking role. Pakistan were bowled for 466, a lead of 54 runs, but with Zimbabwe having spuilled 5 catches in the innings - an uncharacteristcially poor fielding display by them - they'll have considered themselves lucky to have the lead. Those fielding errors were the first issue that ultimately cost Zimbabwe the match.

Beginning their second innings with 5 sessions left in the match, Zimbabwe had to simply keep their nerve and bat sensibly to ensure what would have been a well-deserved draw. Instead, the batting lineup imploded spectacularly - first Vusi Sibanda, out in the 4th over, and then a steady processing of rapid-fire wickets that saw Zimbabwe reduced to 69/8 before the 9th-wicket parnership of Tatenda Taibu and Kyle Jarvis finally showed some fight. They took Zimbabwe to 135/8 at the close of day four, having more than double the score of the batsmen who had preceded them, and setting the stage for a possible comeback on day five if the pair were able to hang on and increase the Zimbabwean lead a bit more.

It wasn't to be. Taibu departed early on day five without adding to the score, and with Chris Mpofu following close behind, Zimbabwe had collapsed to 141, leaving Pakistan with a target of just 88 to win the match. Despite Ray Price and Kyle Jarvis nabbing a few wickets along the way, their reaching that was never in doubt, and the match was tied up before lunch.

While the match had some real highlights for Zimbabwe, then - most notably Mawoyo's innings - it will likely noted for the nature of our capitulation, with the old spectre of the Zimbabwe Collapse™ once again returning to haunt us. Full scorecard below the cut. The series now moves on to the first of three ODIs, also at Queen's, om Thursday 8th September.
Zimbabwe 412 (150.4 overs; Mawoyo 163*, Aizaz Cheema 4/79) & 141 (56.3 overs; Taibu 58, Aizaz Cheema 4/24), Pakistan 466 (156.1 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 119, Lamb 3/120) & 88/3 (21.4 overs; Price 2/35). Pakistan win by 7 wickets.

ZC Updates on Injuries to Chigumbura, Meth and Cremer

Zimbabwe Cricket has issued the following advisory regarding the injuries to Elton Chigumbura, Keegan Meth and Graeme Cremer:

Elton Chigumbura was withdrawn from the Zimbabwe squad for the one-off Test match against Pakistan after he failed to recover from a left knee bruise injury first sustained in the penultimate ODI against Bangladesh two Sundays ago. Although Elton later on played through the last ODI, and rested the knee from bowling leading up to the Pakistan series, his situation still impeded his bowling upon resuming bowling.

Team physiotherapist Amato Machikicho confirmed that Chigumbura returned to Harare for probable radiological diagnostics and an opinion from an orthopaedic specialist.

"An MRI scan request has been made so a definitive diagnosis and therefore management timeframe may be specified for Elton's condition sooner rather than later" Machikicho said. "Elton has an appointment with our (ZIM Cricket) Medical Services providers in Harare this afternoon and their findings will guide our management of the player here onwards."

Meanwhile, Tuskers all rounder Keegan Meth continues to make steady progress after the frightening facial injury he suffered during the final ODI against Bangladesh in Bulawayo on August 21st. Meth had three teeth knocked out in attempting to field a ball off his own bowling but is healing well.

"Keegan came down to Bulawayo for a weekend visit. He is looking better and his wounds largely healed and still has stitches on his lower and upper lips. He is now eating solids again, he is going to resume physical training i.e. aerobics and strength reconditioning. We will find out next week if the othordentistry will start or not, in which case he will need further out of the game out of the game or he will resume cricket training," said Machikicho.

Meanwhile, leg spinner Graeme Cremer is set to make his return to cricket soon. Cremer underwent knee surgery five weeks ago and he is making good progress with his recovery and rehabilitation: "Graeme has been doing some light running for two weeks and is training in Harare and making progress. He will be assessed when the team gets back to Harare after the first ODI against Pakistan," Machikicho added.

Particularly good to hear the Meth is making progress, as that did look a horrific injury. He's been spotted at the Test against Pakistan today, wearing a protective mask over his injury, and we hope he's back in action soon.

Lamb, Waller Added to Test Squad

Greg Lamb and Malcolm Waller have been added to Zimbabwe's Test squad ahead of tomorrow's one-off match against Pakistan, while Keegan Meth misses out due to the injury he sustained in the final ODI against Bangladesh. The full 15-man squad is now:

Brendan Taylor (capt), Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Greg Lamb

It's thought that Zimbabwe are unlikely to make any changes from the playing side that beat Bangladesh, although with Greg Lamb having performed well in the warm-up match earlier in the week, there's a chance he may be drafted in, perhaps to replace the out-of-sorts Elton Chigumbura. The Test begins at Queen's Sports Club, Bulawayo, tomorrow.
Cricinfo - Lamb and Waller in Zimbabwe Test squad

Tour Match Ends in Draw

The 2-day tour match between Zimbabwe XI and Pakistanis at Bulawayo Sports Club ended in a draw yesterday. After bowling the Pakistanis out for 222 in their first innings, a similar batting collapse left Zimbabwe XI with only a 3-run lead at the close of the first innings, although with good performances from Chamu Chibhabha ith the bat (70) and Greg Lamb with the ball (3/31), there were positives to be taken from the match - although neither man did enough to earn a call-up to the squad for the Test against Bangaldesh. Pakistanis reached 72/1 in their second innings before the close on Day Two, marking the end of the match as a draw. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistanis 222 (75 overs; Younis Khan 71, Lamb 3/31) & 72/1 (24 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 39, Zhuwawo 1/25), Zimbabwe XI 225 (70.3 overs; Chibhabha 70, Junaid Khan 4/62). Match drawn.

ZC Issue Statement on Keegan Meth's Injury

If you were watching today's ODI, you'll have seen Zim bowler Keegan Meth sustain a very nasty-looking injury when his final delivery of the Bangladesh innings was hit back at him - unable to get out of the way in time, Meth took the ball in the face, and had to be stretchered from the field. He was subsequently taken to hospital in Bulawayo and was unable to bat in Zimbabwe's innings. Zimbabwe Cricket have issued the following statement on his injuries:

Keegan Meth was withdrawn from the final UCB ODI match between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, on Sunday. He sustained a mouth injury off the last ball of the Bangladesh innings when he had a direct ball blow straight onto his mouth after Nasir Hossain played a shot back to him.

Meth lost three upper row teeth on impact and a laceration of his lower lip. The doctor on call at the venue attended to the Meth's lower lip wound which was sutured at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where he was attended to by a dentist.

The extent of the damage on Meth's jaws and mouth can only be ascertained after X ray examination and the dentist's report tomorrow. "Due to the extent of the injury we had to rush him [Meth] to the hospital. He will have to go for X-Rays tomorrow to establish the nature of the dental injury. He will require some orthodentistry for the three teeth and any other possible injuries that might have ensued from the impact," said Zimbabwe National team physiotherapist, Amato Machikicho.

Keegan was able to join the rest of the team during Zimbabwe's innings and also partook in the celebrations thereafter.

Considering how nasty the incident looked on TV, I'm pleased to hear that it wasn't any worse - although it's still a fairly major injury, by cricketing standards. Hopefully the x-rays don't reveal any additional damage, and we wish Keegan a speedy recovery.

Zimbabwe Collapses Hand Bangladesh Win in 5th ODI

Bangladesh walked away with their heads up high after winning the final match in the UCB ODI series at Queens Sports Club Bulawayo, with a 93-run win against the hosts Zimbabwe. The win comes as a consolation after the visitors had lost the first three out five matches in the series.

Zimbabwe won the toss this time, and followed normal practice by putting the opposition in to bat. The day was warm and sunny, and the pitch had a little more green on it than the previous day - although still not very much. Zimbabwe brought in Keegan Meth for Kyle Jarvis, Meth's only match of the tour and one that was to end badly for him; Brian Vitori is still unfit and was again sorely missed.

The team 50 came up in the twelfth over, but Bangladesh were unable to put together a substantial partnership early on. Raymond Price was in the thick of things, removing Tamim Iqbal with his second ball for 45, through a slog to mid-on. He tied the batsmen down early on, also dismissing Mushfiqur Rahim for 20 and frustrating out Shuvagoto Hom for 3, but later on he seemed to lose some accuracy and the batsmen scored freely from him.

At 127 for five after 30 overs, Zimbabwe had perhaps a slight advantage, but this was where it ended. Shakib Al Hasan was in fine form, and he was joined by Mahmadullah. They added 107 together in 18 overs, a serious blow to Zimbabwe, especially as both were dropped, Mahmadullah at 22 by Price and Al Hasan on reaching his 50 by Brendan Taylor. The bowling also was erratic, with some fine deliveries but also too many loose balls, with Al Hasan in particular feeding off balls misdirected on his legs. The final total was 253, the best figures being Price's rather expensive three for 51.

The last ball saw a very nasty injury to Meth from a tossed delivery played back to him on the last ball of the Bangladesh innings. Zimbabwe would had to bat with ten men.

On this ground the target was not mountainous but Zimbabwe suffered an immediate setback when they lost Taylor without scoring; as he prodded at a ball outside off stump and was caught at the wicket. Six runs were scored off the first three overs, but 15 came off the fourth, from Rubel Hossain, as Hamilton Masakadza hit a boundary and then Vusi Sibanda a four and a six. Shortly afterwards Sibanda pulled another six, this time from Shafiul Islam, high into the stand at midwicket.

The 50 came up in the eleventh over, with both batsmen looking in superb form, except that they hit rather too many fine strokes to the fielders rather than between them. But once again the magnificent partnership that has been anticipated all the series failed to materialize, as Sibanda miscued a pull and lobbed a catch to third man for 34; Zimbabwe were 59 for two in the 14th over. Masakadza did not long survive him and was given out lbw to Abdur Razzak for 28. Taibu swept and missed a ball from Al Hasan for 7, another lbw decision and at 73 for four Zimbabwe had put themselves on the slippery road of self-destruction.

Forster Mutizwa and Malcolm Waller had to rebuild the innings, and did so very well for a while, keeping the score moving with well-placed ones and twos while they added 67 and almost doubled the total. But even then the stand was broken as Mutizwa went for a run too soon and fine fielding by Al Hasan ran him out for 27; 140 for five. Elton Chigumbura was soon dismissed, but Waller continued to show up his team-mates, reaching a superb fighting fifty off 69 balls - only to throw his wicket away for 51 as he holed out on the midwicket boundary. The remaining wickets fell quickly, with Meth unable to bat after his injury; and it was soon all over. Full scorecard after the cut.
Bangladesh 253/6 (50 overs; Shakib Al Hasan 79, Price 3/51), Zimbabwe 160 (38.2 overs; Waller 51, Mahmudullah 3/13). Bangladesh win by 93 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Bangladesh Earn Win in 4th ODI

Zimbabwe lost to a spirited Bangladeshi side by six wicket, thanks in a main to Rubel Hossain and some very attacking fielding from the visitors. Captain Brendan Taylor scored a well deserved century but this was not enough to change the outcome of the match. The match is a consolation win, also avoiding a series white wash for the Tigers as Zimbabwe have already won the series 3-1 with one more game to play on Sunday.

Bangladesh, as in the third match, won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat, although the flat pitch on a warm sunny day was not likely to plant anticipation in the heart of any bowler. Despite some disorganization on the part of the local board, the crowd at the start was larger than it had been for any of the Harare matches, and it continued to grow during the day. Zimbabwe omitted Craig Ervine and Vitori, the latter with a leg strain, and brought in Malcolm Waller while restoring Raymond Price.

Zimbabwe enjoyed a good opening stand of 40 before Vusi Sibanda drove outside the off stump to Shafiul Islam and was caught at the wicket for 18, in the ninth over. Hamilton Masakadza stayed in a while without scoring before being dismissed in controversial circumstances: he swept hard at a ball from Mahmadullah well down the leg side and, on the lone appeal of the wicketkeeper, was given out caught at the wicket by the local umpire Owen Chirombe. With no referral option, there was nothing the batsman could do but trudge reluctantly back to the pavilion. The situation grew worse when Taibu called for a risky run and was sent back, but was run out for 8. Zimbabwe were 69 for three in the 18th over. Forster Mutizwa, at last having a chance to play a decent innings, fell to a beautifully flighted and turning delivery from Shakib Al Hasan for 9; 89 for four in the 22nd over.

Another wicket now would have put Bangladesh right on top, but still batting was Brendan Taylor, who had done little in the first three matches. Once in, he showed no signs of poor form, as he put on the runs mainly by handsome drives and well-placed sweeps. He held the innings together and was now joined by Elton Chigumbura, another batsman who has done relatively little in this series. Chigumbura restrained his natural destructive - occasionally self-destructive - nature and played second fiddle to his captain admirably. Taylor went from strength to strength, hitting a flat-bat six off Nasir Hossain over cow corner and reaching his century off 131 balls. The pair added 94 before Chigumbura, with only 31 of those, pulled a short ball straight to deep midwicket. Taylor immediately followed, skying a catch to long-on for 106 (137 balls, seven fours and a six), and the Zimbabwe innings was faltering again at 184 for six in the 44th over. It was a disappointing end to one of Taylor's finest innings.

Malcolm Waller, was a good man in such a situation, and immediately glided a four and pulled a six - only to be out for 12, unusually hitting his wicket as he attempted another pull. The tail seemed utterly out of their depth against Rubel Hossain, whose superb reverse swing cleaned them up in no time. The last four wickets fell for only three runs, making the total 199 with ten balls to spare, and Hossain's final spell took four wickets for only five runs. Bangladesh were hot favourites to win their first match of the series now.

When Bangladesh went in, Chris Mpofu began as if determined to blast out the batsmen with bouncers, but he was quite out of control and his first two balls were wides. A difficult chance was missed at midwicket, but Imrul Kayes smashed his fifth legal delivery for a remarkable straight six. Tamim Iqbal joined in by attacking Kyle Jarvis, and the first two overs went for 24 runs. Some of the strokes were little more than bat thrown at ball, but it was working. When it came to fighting fire with fire Bangladesh were well in front - for a short period, at least - and this was the true Bangladeshi batting flair unseen before on this tour. Vitori was sorely missed.

46 were on the board in only the fifth over when Kayes - 28 off 20 balls - had one hit too many and hammered a catch straight at mid-off. But Junaid Siddique continued to follow the team policy and lashed his first ball over the covers for four. He ran up 14 off 19 balls but, bogged down by Prosper Utseya, went on a big hit and Jarvis held on to a huge skier beyond extra cover; 72 for two after 10 overs. Mpofu, to his credit, had tightened up and making the batsmen take risks to hit him.

Nobody could stop Tamim from reaching his fifty off 35 balls. Price was now bowling in tandem with Utseya, but they too were attacked, until the drink interval. Strangely, afterwards the bowlers began to restrain the batsmen, and Tamim, attempting to sweep a ball from Price, was trapped lbw for 61 (53 balls). When Mushfiqur Rahim (16) drove a catch to extra cover to make the total 129 for four, Zimbabwe could see a glimmer of hope.

But at this point Shuvagoto Hom joined Shakib Al Hasan and, playing a wise game and taking no undue risks, the pair steadily accumulated the necessary runs. Hom again showed great calm and competence in the middle order, and the ability to score freely without taking risks, while Shakib did his usual job for his side. Zimbabwe will need to lift themselves again for the final match on Sunday, with or without Vitori. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 199 (48.2 overs; Taylor 106, Rubel Hossain 4/31), Bangladesh 203/4 (36.4 overs; Tamim Iqbal 61, Price 1/35). Bangladesh win by 6 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

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