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Wahab, Misbah get Pak off the block, finally

Wahab, Misbah get Pak off the block, finally
Despite a spirited fight by Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura (35), Pakistan managed their first World Cup Pool B win, by 20 runs, at Gabba on Sunday.

After an extremely slow start, Pakistan managed to reach 235/7 thanks to Man-of-the-Match Wahab Riaz’s (54 not out) first ODI half-century. Zimbabwe looked well on course while chasing. But Pakistan’s pace bowling quartet, especially Riaz (4/45) and Mohammad Irfan (4/30), chipped away wickets at critical junctures to help the 1992 edition champions bowl Zimbabwe out for 215 with two balls to spare.

Zimbabwe needed the likes of Hamilton Masakadza (29), Brendan Taylor (50) and Sean Williams (33) to take them home but it was not to be. Chasing a target of 236, Zimbabwe lost openers Chamu Chibhabha (9) and Sikandar Raza (8) early. But Masakadza and wicketkeeper Taylor, who scored his 31st ODI half-century, kept knocking around. 

However, from a very comfortable 150/4, Zimbabwe lost four wickets in a span of 18 runs which turned the match in favour of Pakistan. Skipper Chigumbura, however, looked like he would steer the Africans home with Tineshe Panyangara (10) by his side. They struck a crucial 47-run ninth-wicket partnership. 

With 34 required from four overs and a steady partnership at hand, it looked like Zimbabwe will make it. But a special maiden over by birthday boy Shahid Afridi turned the tables as the score became 34 off 18. Thereon, the Pakistani pacers bowled beautifully to snatch the game away. The Zimbabwean pair got out in the last over in a desperate dash to score.

Earlier, considering the slow start that Pakistan got after winning the toss, 235 was a competitive total on a slow Gabba wicket. Zimbabwe bowlers were brilliant to begin with. They took two early wickets. Openers Nasir Jamshed (1) and Ahmed Shehzad (0) were bowled out with Pakistan tottering at 4/2. 
Zimbabwe restricted Pakistan to 14/2 in 10 overs. Though Pakistan didn’t lose any wicket in the next five overs, they were not able to score freely. They managed 33/2 at the end of the 15th over, the lowest 15-over total of this WC. Things did not improve for Pakistan as they reached 127/5 in the 34th over. But a quick knock off 46 balls by Riaz towards the end of the innings helped Pakistan cross the 200-run mark.

Briefscores: Pakistan 235/7 in 50 overs (Misbah 73, Wahab Riaz 54*, Chatara 3/35); Zimbabwe 215 all out in 49.4 overs (Taylor 50, Irfan 4/40, Wahab Riaz 4/45). 

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