It was always going to be a tough ask for Zimbabwe to defend 134 after their unsatisfactory innings saw Ryan Burl top-scoring with an unbeaten 32 in the second T20I encounter against Pakistan at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
And Pakistan hardly broke a sweat as they chased down the target to record a comfortable eight-wicket victory which also saw them sealing the three-match series.
Asked to bat first after losing the toss, Zimbabwe were soon in familiar distress once again after Brendan Taylor edged to the wicketkeeper to depart for three with the team total on five in the second over of the game.
His opening partner, skipper Chamu Chibhabha, tried to seize control with three boundaries that saw the visitors galloping to 30 in the next eight balls before he perished for 15 as he attempted a pull shot, only to pop a simple catch to the man at midwicket.
That brought in Wessly Madhevere, who scored an unbeaten fifty in the first T20I on Saturday, but his partnership with Sean Williams failed to spark this time around as the pair could only add eight runs before the latter, looking to run it through towards the third man, got an inside edge that saw the ball dropping onto his stumps.
He had made 13, with two fours, off 10 balls, with his dismissal leaving Zimbabwe reeling at 38 for three in the fifth over.
The next man in, Sikandar Raza, also faced 10 balls before departing for seven, including a boundary, succumbing after the delivery went through his defence to hit the stumps.
He had however stayed in long enough to share a stand of 27 with Madhevere who dominated the partnership as the exciting young talent banged two boundaries and pulled a maximum over midwicket.
Two balls after Raza’s dismissal, with only one more run, added, Zimbabwe have rocked again when Madhevere went for the sweep but took it on the pad to be given out leg before wicket – he had scored 24 off 22 deliveries – leaving the tourists lurching at 66 for five at the halfway mark.
That left the two new men at the crease, Ryan Burl and Elton Chigumbura, with the unenviable task to breathe new life into their team’s innings with 10 overs to go against a potent bowling unit.
The pair mustered 24 runs in a sixth-wicket partnership that took Zimbabwe to 90 for six in 14 overs.
Chigumbura, playing the penultimate match of his 16-year international career, made 18, including a four and a six, off 19 balls before he was stumped after he went down the wicket, only to be beaten by the flight of the ball which turned sharply into the keeper’s gloves for him to knock off the bails.
Donald Tiripano, the only change made by Zimbabwe for today’s match as he came in for the injured Tendai Chatara, chipped in with a valuable 15 off 17 balls before he holed out a catch to the man at extra cover, reducing the visitors to 120 for seven.
Burl and Tendai Chisoro then saw out the remaining nine balls, both finishing unbeaten with 32 and three respectively.
Burl, who faced 22 balls for his contribution, saved the best for last as he closed off the innings by carting a juicy length delivery over the wide long-on fence all the way into the empty terraces.
But 134 for seven was always going to be a difficult score to defend for Zimbabwe.
The in-form Blessing Muzarabani claimed two scalps but that is all the tourists could do as Pakistan cantered to victory without losing another wicket.
And they did so with almost five overs to spare, as Haider Ali and captain Babar Azam marshalled their side home with brilliant knocks of 66 not-out and 51 respectively.
With the win, Pakistan – who got the better of Zimbabwe by six wickets in the first T20I – sealed the three-match series.
The last match will be played at the same venue on Tuesday
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