HARARE: Ahmed Shehzad shone with the bat and Shahid Afridi struck with the ball as Pakistan opened their tour of Zimbabwe with a comfortable victory in the first Twenty20 international yesterday. Shehzad’s measured 70 allowed Pakistan to post a strong total of 161 for five, before Afridi snubbed out Zimbabwean resistance with three wickets to secure a 25-run victory.
Although Zimbabwe were much improved from the side that lost a recent one-day series against India 5-0, they let things slip in the field midway through the Pakistan innings and also lost their way after a promising start with the bat. Shehzad’s patience up front proved key to the match as he saw out a tricky opening period when Pakistan lost Nasir Jamshed and captain Mohammad Hafeez to Tendai Chatara, before slowly taking control against Zimbabwe’s other seamers.
“Early on it was doing a bit. They bowled a good channel and that’s why they picked up a couple of wickets, but after six overs the ball was coming on nicely and I was able to manoeuvre the ball,” Shehzad said. The opener took 17 runs off Elton Chigumbura’s first over to put the pressure back on Zimbabwe, and shared in a 55-run stand with debutant Sohaib Maqsood. Shehzad struck six fours and a six in his 50-ball innings before he was eventually caught on the boundary off the bowling of Shingirai Masakadza.
Afridi ensured that Pakistan finished strongly, hitting 23 not out from 16 deliveries, and then made key breakthroughs in the Zimbabwean innings in claiming figures of 3 for 25. The home side started brightly with a 53-run opening stand between Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda, but their inability to accelerate from a solid base meant that they never really threatened to achieve their target.
Afridi picked up the wickets of Sibanda and Timycen Maruma after labored innings by both batsmen, and also dismissed the dangerous Chigumbura cheaply. Although Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor came in at number three and finished unbeaten, he was often starved of the strike as he faced just 30 balls in top-scoring with 32.
Malcolm Waller’s late salvo saw him take a six and a four off Saeed Ajmal’s final over, but with too much to do Zimbabwe finished well short of the line. “We always know that once we score 150-plus, it will be tough for the opposition to score the runs with our good bowling side,” Hafeez said. The two teams will face off again at the same venue in the second and final Twenty20 international today.- AFP
LAHORE: Pakistan's interim cricket chief said Monday he would ask the sport's governing body to reduce a five-year ban against promising fast bowler Mohammad Aamer for spot fixing.
Aamer, regarded as hot property in international cricket for his pace and guile, was banned with team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif in February 2011 by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The trio were exposed in a sting operation by now defunct British tabloid News of the World, which saw them promising to bowl deliberate no-balls in return for money in the 2010 Lord's Test against England.
All three and their agent Mazhar Majeed were also jailed in 2011.
Najam Sethi, appointed interim chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday, said he would ask the ICC to reduce Aamer's ban at its annual meeting in London starting on Tuesday.
"Aamer is our talented cricketer and I will request the ICC that (as) he has spent two and a half years of his ban, was also jailed, so for God's sake reduce his ban," Sethi told a press conference.
Under the ICC players code of conduct the minimum punishment for such a violation is five years.
Sethi, a 65-year-old journalist who was also interim chief minister of Punjab during a recent general election campaign, replaced Zaka Ashraf after he was suspended on charges of being dubiously elected.
Sethi promised accountability over any failings of the national team following their dismal show in the Champions Trophy where they lost all three matches.
"I want to stress that in the future the captain, coach, vice captain and the selection committee will be held accountable in case the team fails in any event," said Sethi.
Sethi said events such as Saturday's killing of 10 foreign climbers in the north made it difficult to bring international cricket back to Pakistan, a task he said would be for a permanent chairman.
International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since militants
attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, forcing the national team to play their home matches on neutral venues.
Sethi said the squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies would be announced later this week. Pakistan will play five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals in the Caribbean next month. (AFP)