Pakistan book quarterfinal berth with win over Zimbabwe

Chasing a revised target of 162 in 38 overs, Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq – into the side for an injured Umar Akmal – made light of slippery conditions and helped put the game to bed with 23 deliveries to spare. Pakistan have now qualified for the quarter-finals.

By Jamie Alter

Pallekele: Mar 14, 2011

Umar Gul lit up a gloomy and wet day in Kandy with a sustained display of seam bowling to set up Pakistan for a seven-wicket win. Choosing to bat first on a sluggish pitch under a grey cloud covering, Zimbabwe stumbled to 151 for seven in between two rain interruptions, the first during the 28th over and the second in the 40th. Chasing a revised target of 162 in 38 overs, Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq – into the side for an injured Umar Akmal – made light of slippery conditions and helped put the game to bed with 23 deliveries to spare. Pakistan have now qualified for the quarter-finals.

Under an overcast sky, Zimbabwe struggled to come to grips with a nippy attack exploiting the conditions. Their tale of woe started as early as the fifth ball of the innings, which Brendan Taylor tickled through to Kamran Akmal behind the stumps. Gul got Regis Chakabva lbw for 0 and extracted a leaden-footed Vusi Sibanda with one that left him a shade, and the outside edge was smartly held by Misbah-ul-Haq at first slip.

Tatenda Taibu, who had a few nervous prods at Gul, didn t last very long either. Wahab Riaz set him up with a short one, which pinged his gloves, and the next ball was full and wide and Taibu picked out mid-off. Much rested on Greg Lamb, but he made just 16 before popping a googly back to Shahid Afridi. In just the 24th over, Zimbabwe were floundering at 84 for five and readying themselves for an early finish.

Gul was excellent in his opening burst (4-1-13-2) while Razzaq turned in a controlling spell (7-1-24-1), and should have had a second wicket but an outer edge fell agonizingly short of slip. Craig Ervine, who nudged and pushed the ball around while scampering singles, resisted stubbornly until the rain came. But he was unable to press further on resumption, and paid the price for a lapse of concentration on 52.

Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya then added 48, taking the score to the respectability of 150 before Gul dismissed Utseya. That was promptly followed by rain returning, and a revised target for Pakistan.

Coming together with the score 17 for one after yet another poor outing from Ahmed Shehzad, Hafeez and Shafiq added 82 for the second wicket. Hafeez s 49 was his best score of the tournament, while Shafiq s unbeaten 78 did his future claims no harm at all an innings that made up in purpose what it lacked by way of elegance.

Ray Price struck early, first barking in Shehzad s face repeatedly and then having him stumped. Hafeez started confidently and Zimbabwe compounded their problems with some erratic fielding and wayward bowling. Shingirai Masakadza was the main culprit and Hafeez cashed in with some firm shots to settle the nerves.

With Shafiq dropping anchor, Hafeez ticked along hassle-free until he was caught at slip for 49 off Price, who then bowled Afridi and celebrated animatedly. Price bowled his eight overs off the reel, but the problem for Chigumbura was that the pressure wasn’t maintained at the other end. Lamb bowled too short while Graeme Cremer struggled to grip the ball with all the dew around. Once Shafiq crossed fifty, the shots were played with more flourish and the end came in good time.

Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 151 for 7 in 39.4 overs (Craig Ervine 52, Elton Chigumbura 32*, Umar Gul 3 for 36, Wahab Riaz 1 for 21, Abdul Razzaq 1 for 24) lost to Pakistan 164 for 3 in 34.1 overs (Asad Shafiq 78*, Mohammad Hafeez 49; Ray Price 2 for 21, Prosper Utseya 1 for 24).

Man of the Match: Umar Gul

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now. His twitter feed is @jamie_alter)

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