2015 ICC World Cup: Wahab, Irfan give Pakistan first points

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March 1, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Pakistan 235 for 7 (Misbah 73, Wahab 54*, Chatara 3-35) beat Zimbabwe 215 (Taylor 50, Irfan 4-30, Wahab 4-45) by 20 runs

The force was with Pakistan at the Gabba and their fans knew it, Pakistan v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Brisbane, March 1, 2015 © ICC

March 1, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Pakistan 235 for 7 (Misbah 73, Wahab 54*, Chatara 3-35) beat Zimbabwe 215 (Taylor 50, Irfan 4-30, Wahab 4-45) by 20 runs

The force was with Pakistan at the Gabba and their fans knew it, Pakistan v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Brisbane, March 1, 2015 © ICC

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA: Wahab Riaz struck a belligerent 54 with the bat to give Pakistan a total that they could defend, and then combined with Mohammad Irfan (4 for 30) to scuttle Zimbabwe as Misbah-ul-Haq’s team got their campaign off the ground with a 20-run victory at the Gabba in Brisbane on Sunday (March 1).

Misbah’s 120-ball 73 had held the innings together, and despite two dropped catches from Umar Akmal behind the stumps, the bowlers were good enough to get the result.

For long periods with ball and bat, Zimbabwe had controlled the game, but a combination of dubious shot selection and exceptional bowling in the Batting Power Play from Wahab and Irfan tilted the game decisively in Pakistan’s favour.

Defending just 235, new-ball wickets were imperative, and Irfan duly provided them on a fast and bouncy pitch perfectly suited to his methods. The steepling bounce he got accounted for both Chamu Chibhabha and Sikandar Raza, one unable to get his bat out of the way and the other unable to control a cut. Haris Sohail took both chances with nonchalant ease at second slip, leaving Zimbabwe 22 for 2 in the seventh over.

Can't catch me: Wahab Riaz was too good for Zimbabwe's tail, Pakistan v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Brisbane, March 1, 2015

Pakistan’s position would have been even stronger had they reviewed a decision given when Brendan Taylor, who would go on to make 50, had yet to open his account. Rahat Ali was the bowler when Taylor appeared to glove a leg glance. But after a lengthy consultation, Misbah decided not to seek the third umpire’s opinion.

Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza dragged Zimbabwe back into the contest with a 52-run stand. Taylor played some lovely drives and an astonishing ramp shot over the ‘keeper off Wahab, while Masakadza muscled the ball around. Desperate for wickets, Misbah once again turned to Irfan.

It took him just two balls to strike, as Masakadza miscued a loft to mid-off, where Misbah watched a steepler all the way down into his hands. Sean Williams started fluently, with two fours in an Irfan over, but was also given a helping hand by Akmal, who put down an attempted cut off Afridi when he had made just 11.

At the halfway mark, Zimbabwe were well placed at 105 for 3, and Taylor duly eased to his half-century in 69 balls. But once again, a good partnership (54 off 49 balls) didn’t become a game-changing one. Taylor was the culprit this time, tickling one down the legside to give Wahab his first wicket.

Then, after Akmal had dropped Craig Ervine off Afridi, Williams played an even worse stroke. Rahat had just been reintroduced when he cut one too close to his body. Ahmed Shehzad held the chance over his head at backward point to send Williams on his way for 33 from 32 balls.

Then came the Power Play. Irfan had Solomon Mire edging behind, before Wahab induced a wild slash from Ervine and a thin edge from Tawanda Mupariwa. On each occasion, Akmal managed to hold on. From 150 for 4, Zimbabwe had slumped to 168 for 8.

Elton Chigumbura, batting despite having hurt his quadriceps while fielding, kept Pakistan waiting with a gritty innings, supported by Tinashe Panyangara. The two added 47 from 59 balls, with Chigumbura striking four fours, but Wahab (4 for 45) and Irfan simply had too much pace and nous as the game reached its expected denouement, Zimbabwe all out for 215 in 49.4 overs.

There was little hint of the drama to come as Pakistan sleepwalked their way through the first 15 overs, with just three fours hit and 33 made for the loss of two wickets. Nasir Jamshed, whose World Cup began with a duck against West Indies, made 1 this time before miscuing Tendai Chatara to square leg. Shehzad, the other opener, didn’t even bother the scorers, undone by a lovely Chatara delivery that moved away a touch.

Misbah and Haris Sohail rebuilt, but progress was painstaking as the Zimbabwe bowlers operated with tremendous discipline. It took them 92 balls to bring up the half-century partnership, but Sohail was unable to kick on. His dismissal for 27 (44 balls) – whacking a long-hop from Raza to short midwicket – summed up the early batting.

Chigumbura caught his foot in the turf while chasing a ball to the rope and had to be helped off after he fell awkwardly on his knee, and with Taylor now directing proceedings, Pakistan had eked out just 77 for 3 from the first 25 overs.

The acceleration came mostly from Akmal, who struck a couple of powerful pulls off Williams, and it took Misbah all of 91 balls to bring up his 50. The partnership was worth 69 from 80 balls when Williams got one to dart past the outer edge of Akmal’s bat and clip the top of off stump. He had made 33 from 42 balls.

On his 35th birthday, Shahid Afridi only managed his 29th ODI duck for Pakistan, beaten by an even better delivery from Williams. Sohaib Maqsood stroked his way to 21 from 17 before getting the leading edge back to Mupariwa, and only 27 came from the Batting Power Play as Pakistan sought a late surge.

It didn’t come from Misbah, whose attempt to hit Chatara over the ropes found the man at long-on. Chatara, who finished with 3 for 35, was the pick of the bowlers as Zimbabwe avoided the late-overs meltdown that had cost them so dearly against South Africa and West Indies.

Mohammad Irfan got the better of Solomon Mire with his extra bounce, Pakistan v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Brisbane, March 1, 2015

Wahab struck six fours and a splendid straight six in his 46-ball innings as Pakistan took 43 from the last five overs. Against a side that hasn’t beaten a full member at the World Cup since 1999, that late flourish proved decisive.


Courtesy: Wisden India