Shaheen Afridi took five wickets as Pakistan fended off a Zimbabwe side who were almost propelled to a shock ODI victory by Brendan Taylor.

Pakistan landed a 26-run victory in the first game of a three-match ODI series, the first step for both teams on the road to the 2023 World Cup, inflicting on Zimbabwe their 500th international defeat.

The home side posted 281-8 before bowling out Zimbabwe for 255, but the visitors had been firmly in the hunt until wicketkeeper-batsman Taylor fell for a battling 112 to the penultimate ball of the 47th over. He had earlier taken three catches and played his part in a run out.

It was Shaheen who ended his stay on the way to figures of 5-49, while fellow left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz also claimed a priceless 4-41, wrapping up the win by bowling last man Blessing Muzarabani.

Babar Azam, in his first ODI as Pakistan captain, was able to celebrate a hard-fought success - a seventh in a row for the team.

Pakistan's innings was built on half-centuries from opener Imam-ul-Haq (58) and Haris Sohail (71), but wickets fell at such regular intervals that there was no defining partnership. Indeed, the opening pair of Imam and Abid Ali put on more than any other pair. 

Imad Wasim clubbed a pair of late sixes late in the innings on his way to an unbeaten 34 from 26 balls, but Zimbabwe were still in the game. 

Shaheen accounted for openers Brian Chari and Chamu Chibhabha, bowling both to leave Zimbabwe wobbling on 28-2 in reply, but Craig Ervine (41) and Taylor put on 71 for the third wicket, and it was game on when Taylor and Wesley Madhevere produced a century stand for the fifth. 

Yet losing Madhevere (55) early in the 46th over was a major blow, with Wahab disrupting the established partnership and giving Pakistan the breakthrough they craved. 

Taylor was next to go, top-edging to Wahab at mid-off, and the Zimbabwe lower order was blown away, along with the prospect of a tight finish. 

It meant a success for Pakistan in their first ODI since October 2019, and in the first such match played at Rawalpindi since 2006. 

Having lost 17 of their previous 18 ODIs in Pakistan, it was a largely predictable outcome for Zimbabwe, with the teams due back in action in the second match of this series on Sunday.

Wahab Riaz’s arrival in all formats of the game was signalled by a One-Day International spell in the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup.

Bowling against an Australian top order inclusive of Shane Watson and Michael Clarke, Wahab delivered at real pace, his 150 km/h bouncers and yorkers getting the batsmen in trouble.

“One of the fastest spells I have seen in a long tim,” said Clarke after the 2015 World Cup game.

Wahab’s pace and wicket-taking ability has made him a hit in the T20 leagues around the world. He was a platinum selection for Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League, leading the team in number of wickets for the last few years. He has also had stints in the Afghanistan Premier League, the Global T20 Canada, the Mzansi Super League and in the Bangladesh Premier League.

 

Career Statistics (2008-present)

Full name: Wahab Riaz

Born: June 28, 1985 (35), Lahore, Punjab

Major teams: Pakistan, Barbados Tridents, Brampton Wolves, Cape Town Blitz, Central Punjab (Pakistan), City Nazim XI, Comilla Victorians, Derbyshire, Dhaka Dynamites, Dhaka Platoon, Essex, Essex 2nd XI, Hyderabad (Pakistan), Hyderabad Hawks, Hyderabad Region, Imtiaz Ahmed's XI, Kandahar Knights, Karachi Kings, Karachi Port Trust, Kent, Kowloon Cantons, Lahore, Lahore Eagles, Lahore Lions, Lahore Ravi, Lahore Region Whites, Lahore Shalimar, National Bank of Pakistan, North West Frontier Province-Baluchistan, Northern Warriors, Pakistan A, Pakistan All Star XI, Pakistan Blues, Pakistan Chief Ministers XI, Pakistan Cricket Academy, Pakistan Cricket Board Patron's XI, Pakistan Greens, Pakistan Under-17s, Pakistan Under-19s, Peshawar Zalmi, Punjab (Pakistan), Punjab Badshahs, Rangpur Riders, Surrey, Water and Power Development Authority

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Left-arm fast

 

T20I Career – Pakistan

Mat   Inns   Balls   Runs   Wkts   BBI     BBM     Ave    Econ    SR     4w    5w    10w

31       30     609     813       30     3/18    3/18     27.10   8.00   20.3     0        0       0

T20 Career

Mat   Inns    Balls    Runs    Wkts    BBI   BBM     Ave     Econ    SR     4w    5w    10w

252    248     5347     6379     296     5/8     5/8      21.55    7.15   18.0     0        2      0

 

Career Highlights

  • 9th most wickets in T20 cricket (296)
  • 296 T20 wickets at 21.55
  • 30 T20I wickets from 31 matches at 27.10

Pakistan will travel with an initial 20-man playing squad for the tour of England following the results from the latest round of coronavirus tests. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) released a statement to reveal the list of names who will be on the chartered flight to Manchester, as well as an update on the situations of those who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. 

Of the original 29-man squad, 18 received the all-clear following Thursday's checks, as well as 11 members of the support staff. 

They will be joined on the journey by fast bowler Musa Khan and wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir, who have also been tested twice in the past week. Zafar Gohar, meanwhile, will team up with the squad on their arrival in England.The left-arm spinner played a solitary one-dayer for Pakistan in 2015, though he will only be involved in pre-match preparations.

As for those not making the initial trip, they will not be able to travel until returning two successive negative results.  

Six players - Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz – have done so once and will be tested again next week with a view to joining their team-mates.

Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Kashif Bhatti and Imran Khan, along with masseur Malang Ali, all tested positive again, however. The PCB medical team has instructed them to remain in quarantine, with their progress to be monitored. 

"I want to reassure the players and the official left behind that the PCB will provide them the best support and look after them during the quarantine period," PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said in a statement.  

"It needs to be remembered that these players were asymptomatic, which means their chances of regaining complete fitness are higher and brighter than most. As soon as these players test negative twice through the PCB testing process they will be flown to England to join the squad. 

"I am aware Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz took personal tests outside of our process prior to the second PCB testing. While their results came up negative, as per the PCB testing programme, they are deemed to have one negative test following a positive test.  

"Therefore, once they are retested and receive a second negative result under the PCB testing programme, they will be available to join the squad in England."

Pakistan are scheduled to play three Tests and a trio of Twenty20 fixtures against England.

 

Pakistan squad travelling to England: Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Rohail Nazir, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah. 

Babar Azam has been confirmed as Pakistan's new one-day captain, while Azhar Ali will remain in charge of the Test team.

Batsman Babar is to lead his country in white-ball cricket for the 2020-21 season, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Wednesday when announcing the new list of central contracts for the upcoming campaign, which begins on July 1.

The 25-year-old averages 54.17 in his 50-over career for Pakistan and sits third in the International Cricket Council’s batsmen rankings, behind India duo Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

He had already replaced Sarfraz Ahmed in charge of the Twenty20 side but will now be skipper in the ODI format too, though it is unclear when Pakistan will next be in action.

A one-day tour to the Netherlands was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they may not play a 50-over fixture until they take on South Africa in October.

Ali, meanwhile, is to continue in the Test job, with Pakistan scheduled to play a three-match series against England during a tour that also includes a trio of T20 games.

"I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions," Misbah-ul-Haq, chief selector and head coach, said. "This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles.

"I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels."

Meanwhile, Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad were the two new additions to receive central contracts – but Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were all absent from the 18-man list.

Amir and Wahab "remain in contention", however, as Misbah is hopeful the experienced duo can help aid the development of Pakistan's up-and-coming fast bowlers.

Misbah said: "The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move.

"However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers."

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