HARARE: Legspinner Yasir Shah returned career-best figures as Pakistan routed Zimbabwe by 131 runs in the first of three one-day internationals at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 260 after a century stand by Mohammad Rizwan and Imad Wasim had rescued the Pakistan innings, Zimbabwe were bowled out for just 128 with Shah recording figures of 6 for 26.
The hosts had gained the upper hand in the morning by winning the toss and reducing Pakistan to 128 for five, but Rizwan and Wasim added 124 for the sixth wicket.
Both batsmen ended up scoring at a run a ball on a dry surface, with Rizwan finishing unbeaten on 75 and Wasim run out for 61 in the final over of the innings.
Although Zimbabwe started the day looking short on energy, they sparked to life in the sixth over when John Nyumbu made up for a dropped catch by running out Pakistan captain Azhar Ali with a direct hit.
From that point Pakistan slumped to 35 for three after 10 overs as seamers Tinashe Panyangara and Luke Jongwe were rewarded for their persistence with the wickets of Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez respectively.
Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik resurrected the innings as they added 65 for the fourth wicket, only to undo their good work by running down the pitch at Zimbabwe’s spinners.
While Malik was bowled by a dipping Nyumbu delivery for 31, Ahmed hit a Graeme Cremer delivery straight to deep midwicket to depart for 44.
Fortunately for Pakistan they had two middle-order batsmen in good form, with Rizwan and Wasim fresh from good outings in the Twenty20 international series, which the tourists swept 2-0.
They seamlessly restored some stability to the Pakistan innings, before cashing in at the end as they reaped 78 runs from the last eight overs.
Zimbabwe attempted to build their reply with a steady start, but Shah struck in his first and third overs before going on to run through the middle order.
Shoaib Malik also chipped in with three wickets as the Zimbabwean innings lasted just 37 overs.
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