HARARE: A career-best 61 from opening batsman Fakhar Zaman helped Pakistan secure a 74 runs win in their tri-series opener against hosts Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Zaman’s efforts were boosted by a late flurry of boundaries from Asif Ali and veteran batsman Shoaib Malik, who put on an unbroken 62 for the fifth wicket at the death.
Zaman kept Pakistan steady through the first half of their innings while Zimbabwe, having opted to bowl first, chipped away at the other end with regular strikes.
Mohammad Hafeez, recalled to the Pakistan national team after his bowling action was cleared last month, made just seven runs — including a six –before splicing a big shot down the ground to be excellently caught by new Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza, backpedalling from mid off.
Medium pacer Chamu Chibhabha had Hussain Talat caught behind for a scratchy 10, and when Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed popped a simple catch into the covers off-spinner Tendai Chisoro, Pakistan were 78 for 3.
They were helped by Zaman´s fluent scoring at the other end, and he brought up his second T20I half-century from 33 deliveries with a flick through square leg in the 13th over. Zaman appeared settled at the crease, but two overs later he missed a heave at Chisoro and had his leg stump pegged back.
Pakistan had lost opener, Mohammad Hafeez, early in the game for seven runs after Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field. The green shirts lost Hussain Talat next for 10 runs after he was bowled out by Chamu Chibhabha.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed departed for 16 off 15 balls after giving a straightforward catch to Musakanda off Tendai Chisoro.
Pakistan are looking to maintain their top spot on the ICC T20 ranking, which also features Australia.
They will be looking to put behind their horrid tour of England after enduring a 6-0 drubbing across limited overs formats.
Australia currently stands on number three and could capture the top spot if they win all their upcoming games in the tri-series.
The kangaroos will be up against a Pakistan side brimming with confidence after having lost only one of their eight T20 internationals this year.
Fakhar Zaman, Muhammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmad (captain/wicketkeeper), Harris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hassan Ali, Muhammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Sahibzada Farhan.