Harare: Umar Akmal's aggressive innings proved crucial in a low-scoring game as Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 15 runs to win Tuesday's Twenty20 international at Harare Sports Club and sweep the two-match series.
Akmal scored 38 not out from 28 balls and added 24 runs with Imad Wasim in the last two overs of Pakistan's innings to boost the tourists' total to 136 for six, which proved beyond Zimbabwe despite Sean Williams's fighting 40 not out. Williams shared a 60-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Sikandar Raza Butt -- the only half-century stand in the series -- but was always playing catch-up after the hosts had slumped to 24 for four at the start of their chase.
Zimbabwe finished on 121 for seven, as left-arm spinner Wasim once again proved the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with figures of 1 for 14 from four overs. "Our bowlers were good again," Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said. "Body language is very important and whatever the coach has asked, the boys have delivered." With the game being played on the same pitch as Sunday's series opener, low and slow conditions made the going heavy for batsmen throughout.
Although Pakistan made a brighter start after they once again won the toss and opted to bat first, they lost wickets whenever their batsmen attempted to force the pace. While Sohaib Maqsood anchored the innings with a run-a-ball 26, only Akmal and Wasim were able to take the attack to the hosts. After struggling to gain any meaningful momentum, the tourists went into the final two overs with just 112 runs on the board and were grateful to the pair for some late blows.
With the same task that had faced them on Sunday, Zimbabwe's batsmen had an opportunity to show what they had learned but lost their top four with just 24 runs on the board. That left the middle order with too much to do, and although Williams shared a 60-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Sikandar Raza Butt - the only half-century stand in the series - he was always playing catch-up.
Once Raza had been bowled for 36 by Imran Khan and Elton Chigumbura's brief but entertaining stay at the crease had come to an end, Zimbabwe's hopes vanished. "I can repeat what I said after the last game," said Chigumbura. "We were disappointing again with the bat, but the bowlers were good. We need to make sure we up our game for the ODI series." The two sides have just one day off before the three-match one-day international series gets underway at the same venue on Thursday.
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