Ahmed Shehzad inspires Pakistan to series-clinching win


Ahmed Shehzad narrowly missed his maiden T20 century but guided Pakistan to a series-clinching 19-run victory over Zimbabwe in the second match at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

The explosive right-handed opener smacked an unbeaten 98 off 64 balls, the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman in T20 internationals, to help tourists post a formidable 179-1.

In reply, Zimbabwean batsmen once again capitulated to spin and hobbled to 160-6 in the allotted overs.

Shehzad, who had hit a majestic 50-ball 70 to help Pakistan secure a 25-run victory in series-opener on Friday, also became the first Pakistani batsman to hit half-dozen sixes in the shortest format of sport. His vigil also featured six boundaries.

Hamilton Masakadza (41) and Vusi Sibanda (23) delivered the hosts yet another steady but solid 50-run opening stand before spinner Mohammad Hafeez removed latter and skipper Brendan Taylor in quick-succession to peg the hosts back.

Dauntless Sibanda and Sean Williams (25) launched a strong recovery and added 38 runs for the third wicket before Hafeez struck again to end the resistance of Masakadza, who hit four boundaries and a six in his 32-ball knock.

34-year-old spinner Zulifqar Babar extended the Zimbabwean misery by removing Williams and Timycen Maruma in three balls as the hosts slumped to 5-109 in 14th over.

A late blitz from Elton Chigumbura saw Zimbabwe diving back into the game but in due course remained unable to cope with the sky-scarping asking-rate.

Hafeez was the pick of Pakistani bowling with the figures of 3-30 while Babar finished with 2-21.

Earlier, Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed (23) got Pakistan off to a flamboyant solid 36-run opening stand before latter departed after holing out to Chigumbura off spinner Shingirai Masakadza at deep.

Shehzad continued to build the innings in the company of skipper Hafeez (54). While Shehzad was belligerent and was blasting his ways, Hafeez was pretty cautious and was concentrating on the rotation of strike.

However, with innings heading towards end, the skipper threw away his cautiousness and played some flamboyant shots.

The two sides will now play three-match ODI series, starting from August 27, which will be followed by two Tests.