Classy Shafiq propels Pakistan to easy win
Asad Shafiq powered Pakistan to an emphatic seven-wicket win against Zimbabwe in the World Cup Group A match at the Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy on Monday.
Zimbabwe won the toss, elected to bat and stumbled to 151/7 after 39.4 overs
The revised target in this rain interrupted match was 162 in 38 overs according to the Duckworth/Lewis-method.
Pakistan never looked like faltering, thanks to Shafiq’s composed 78 off 97 deliveries, with seven fours.
He guided them past the target with a superb square cut as Pakistan raced to 164/3 with 23 balls remaining in the match.
With that victory, Pakistan qualified for the quarterfinals of the World Cup, while Zimbabwe will exit early.
Shafiq received superb batting support from Mohammad Hafeez, who powered his way to 49 off 65 balls, with six boundaries.
The left-arm spinner Ray Price gave Zimbabwe an early sniff when he had Ahmed Shehzad stumped by Tatenda Taibu for eight as Pakistan slipped to 17/1.
But an 82-run partnership for the second wicket between Hafeez and Shafiq put Pakistan in the ascendancy, and they never looked back.
Prosper Utseya had Hafeez caught at slip by Price with the score on 99/2, and Price bowled Shahif Afridi for three shortly afterwards.
Younis Khan (13) used his experience to guide Shafiq to the victory target. They added an undefeated 54 off 64 balls for the fourth wicket.
Shafiq was given his World Cup debut because of a finger injury to Umar Akmal, and he played a composed innings against the high-profile spinners of Zimbabwe to set up the victory.
He became the eighth Pakistan batsman to score a half-century on his World Cup debut.
LACK OF TOP-ORDER RUNS
Zimbabwe would have been frustrated by the lack of runs from their top-order.
On a track that suited the seam bowlers, Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq blasted the top-order away and reduced Zimbabwe to 43/4 before Craig Ervine (52, 82 balls, 5x4) and Elton Chigumbura (32, 46 balls, 2x4) resurrected the innings somewhat.
Gul finished with 3/36 from 7.4 overs.
Razzaq took 1/24 in seven overs and removed Zimbabwe’s prime batting asset, Brendan Taylor, in the first over. Taylor was caught behind for four when he nicked a late away swinger.
Gul then trapped Regis Chakabva in front for a duck, and had Vusi Sibanda expertly caught at second slip by Misbah ul Haq.
Taibu looked in good nick, but played a poor shot to Wahab Riaz and was easily caught at a wide mid-off by Shahif Afridi for 19 (29 balls, 2x4) as Zimbabwe slumped to 43/4.
Greg Lamb and Ervine added 41 runs for the fifth wicket before Lamb was deceived by a googly from Afridi and he was caught and bowled by the captain for 16 with the score on 84/5.
Ervine was bowled by Hafeez. He bowled a lower, flatter off-spinner that skidded through. Ervine looked in excellent form, and his dismissal on 103/6, was a massive setback for Zimbabwe.
The batting of Zimbabwe lacked the class and boundary hitting ability to set a big target, while the venom of Gul and Riaz were factors in the mediocre Zimbabwean score.
Shingirai Masakadza is still a greenhorn as a fast bowler, and Zimbabwe simply did not possess the fast bowling firepower with the ball to trouble Pakistan.
Price bowled superbly for Zimbabwe and captured 2/21 in eight overs. The bowling with which he had Shehzad stumped and Afridi bowled, were top-drawer stuff.
Utseya, with 1/24 from seven overs, was the chief supporting act to Price.
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Craig Ervine, Shingirai Masakadza, Greg Lamb, Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul.