ZIMBABWE, inspired by a magnificent innings of 94 from Solomon Mire, played better against Pakistan at Harare Sports Club yesterday and took the match into the last over before they finally went down by the deceptive margin of seven wickets.
When batting first, they lost only four wickets in scoring 162, and although their bowlers were not particularly penetrative they did make the Pakistan batsmen work hard to win the Tri-Series match.
Pakistan won the toss and put Zimbabwe to bat.
Zimbabwe made three changes to their team for this match: Chamu Chibhabha, Ryan Burl and John Nyumbu were replaced by Cephas Zhuwao, Malcolm Waller and Wellington Masakadza.
The first over, off-breaks bowled by Shoaib Malik, saw Zhuwao at his best. The fourth ball was swung mightily into the stand beyond the boundary at cow corner, while the sixth was driven superbly through extra cover for four.
He and Solomon Mire attacked the bowling with a will, but the wily Pakistan bowlers began to work him out, keeping the ball just out of his range.
Zhuwao swung and missed several times, until finally Faheem Ashraf bowled him with a straight ball for 24; 49 for one in the eighth over.
Mire went from strength to strength, swinging two balls from Shadab Khan for leg-side sixes, and then hit Mohammad Nawaz for six over long-on to reach his first T20 international fifty off 32 balls; his second 25 runs came off eight balls.
Hamilton Masakadza made only two out of their partnership of 33 before he attempted a big hit against Khan and was bowled; 82 for two in the 12th over. The team hundred came up in the 13th over, of which Mire had 65.
Tarisai Musakanda was soon hitting well and runs were coming off almost every ball, although mostly in ones and twos, with an occasional big six from Mire.
Mire scored 94 before, in the 19th over, he was caught at deep midwicket with the score at 146 for three wickets; he faced 63 balls and hit six fours and six sixes.
He had just broken the record for the highest innings by a Zimbabwean batsman in an official T20 international, 93 not out by Masakadza against Bangladesh at Khulna in 2015/16.
Musakanda and Elton Chigumbura now hit out at everything, and with one ball remaining Musakanda was caught on the long-on boundary for 33 off 22 balls. Neither Waller nor PJ Moor got to face a ball as the innings closed on 162 for four wickets, Chigumbura not out with five.
Zimbabwe — 162-4 in 20 overs (Solomon Mire 94, Tarisai Musakanda 33, Cephas Zhuwao 24; Faheem Ashraf 1/24, Mohammad Amir 1/25, Shadab Khan 1/28)
Pakistan — 163-3 in 19.1 overs (Fakhar Zaman 47, Hussain Talat 44, Sarfraz Ahmed 38*; Solomon Mire 1/15, Wellington Masakadza 1/30, Chris Mpofu 1/31)
Pakistan won by seven wickets