Tue, May 26, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Pakistan pull off last-gasp victory to sweep the series

AFP, LAHORE, Pakistan

Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, right, hits a six as Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Charles Coventry looks on in the second Twenty20 match in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Pakistan pulled off a sensational last-over win by two wickets in the second Twenty20 international against Zimbabwe in Lahore on Sunday to take the two-match series 2-0.

With 12 needed off paceman Brian Vitori’s last over, No. 10 Bilawal Bhatti hit a six, four and a two to help Pakistan overhaul a stiff 176-run target in 19.4 overs.

Opener Mukhtar Ahmed hit his second consecutive half-century during his 40-ball 62 to entertain another packed 27,000 holiday crowd.

The win added to Pakistan’s joy as the series marked the return of international cricket to Pakistan since terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.

Heavy security continued, with 4,000 police officers guarding the stadium as helicopters watched over both teams’ arrival in the evening.

Zimbabwe only agreed to tour after the Pakistan Cricket Board guaranteed security normally reserved for heads of state.

Mukhtar, who made a quick 45-ball 83 in the first match, put on 44 by the fifth over with Ahmed Shehzad (18) and another 37 with debutant Nauman Anwer (18), before Pakistan lost four wickets in quick succession.

Mukhtar, dropped on 15 and 55, holed out at mid-on, before Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi — who both made 7 — and Umar Akmal (30) fell to leave Pakistan needing 24 in the last 4.1 overs.

Mukhtar smashed six fours and a six off 40 balls.

Anwar Ali (2) and Mohammad Rizwan (6) fell in the space of five balls, before Bhatti’s heroics sealed the win for Pakistan.

The 2-0 win kept Pakistan fifth in the Twenty20 rankings, while Zimbabwe remained 12th.

Pakistan captain Afridi said he was happy that both matches were held without any mishap.

“I think its a matter of great happiness that both the matches went without any problem,” Afridi said. “The crowd was very good in both the matches and the win added to our joy, which is great.”

Zimbabwe all-rounder Sean Willaims said his team gave away the match.

“We are not satisfied with the result,” said Williams, who took two wickets besides his half-century. “We were short a few runs in both the matches and dropped catches did not help us today.”

Earlier, Williams hit a rapid 32-ball 58 not out with seven fours and a six, while opener Vusi Sibanda’s 46-ball 49 helped Zimbabwe to a solid 175-3 after winning the toss.

Sibanda added an invaluable 68 for the opening stand with fellow opener Hamilton Masakadza (39), before adding the same tally with Williams as the Pakistan bowlers struggled to stop the flow of runs.

Masakadza hit three successive fours off seamer Bhatti before he holed out off spinner Shoaib Malik, who took one for 23 in four overs.

Sibanda hit two fours and a six before becoming Afridi’s first wicket in his past three Twenty20 matches.

Williams hit Afridi for six to reach his maiden half-century off just 26 balls, improving on his previous best Twenty20 score of 38 made against Bangladesh in Khulna nine years ago.

Elton Chigumbura lifted the score by hitting three successive sixes in paceman Mohammad Sami’s over. Chigumbura made 21 off just nine balls.

Sami, Afridi and Malik took a wicket apiece.

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