KARACHI: Downed by players’ salaries issue and a Twenty20 series loss, Zimbabwe shocked the cricket world by upsetting Pakistan with a seven-wicket win in the opening fixture of the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series, that eventually turned out to be a one-sided encounter in Harare.
The victory was the home side’s first ODI win against Pakistan since 1998.
Chasing 245, a sturdy 85 from Hamilton Masakadza and a crucial late cameo from Sean Williams saw Zimbabwe comfortably seal the win with 10 balls to spare.
Masakadza laid the platform before Williams finished the job with an unbeaten 39 from 23 deliveries.
Although Misbahul Haq held the Pakistan innings together in his 50th consecutive ODI as Pakistan captain, he was left to lament his decision to bat first at a venue where the pitch generally improves as the day goes on.
“We misread the pitch — it was looking like it was going to be slow in the second innings, but I think it was slow in the first innings and played better in the second,” said Misbah.
“Still I think Zimbabwe really deserved it — they played really well and were better than us. There was no panic in their batting line-up and they did it comfortably.”
Misbah finished unbeaten on 83 and shared a 99-run stand for the third wicket with Mohammad Hafeez, who made 70, but with Pakistan’s middle and lower order failing to fire they could only manage 244 for seven.
Can’t lose to weak opponents like this: Aqib
The loss left former Pakistan cricketers stunned, who felt the team shouldn’t have conceded the match.
“It’s a huge shock,” former Pakistan Test cricketer Aqib Javed told The Express Tribune.
“Upsets do happen but tough sides don’t let such results take place. Even if India played their third choice starting line-up, I am sure they wouldn’t have let Zimbabwe win this way.
“Pakistan must ensure that they don’t lose against weak opponents like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh because such results are discouraging and brings the team’s confidence down.
“I hope they will now redeem themselves and win the series.”
The former Pakistan bowling coach, who is currently associated with the UAE side as the head coach, was surprised with the bowling performance.
“The score of around 250 was not low and was defendable,” he said.
“Pakistan used their key bowlers including Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez and it’s sad that Zimbabwe still managed to achieve the target without much difficulty.”
Meanwhile, another former cricketer Basit Ali felt Pakistan took the Zimbabweans lightly.
“Every match is different and you can expect that if any team is taken lightly,” said Basit, who also criticised the youngsters for not learning from their mistakes.
However, Ali advised fans to remain calm.
“We should learn to digest the team’s losses too.”