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Zimbabwe seal stunning come-from-behind win

Led by Sikandar Raza's triple strike, Zimbabwe scripted a come-from-behind win to down Pakistan by 1-run and make a seriously strong case for qualification to the semifinals of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022. For the second game in a row, Pakistan let a winning position slip away from their hands in the last over of the game, as they failed to score 4 runs off the last 4 balls in Perth, on Thursday.

Come from behind win?

Chasing 131 for a win, Pakistan were comfortably placed mid-way through the 14th over at 88 for 3, with Shadab Khan and Shan Masood having stitched a half-century stand. With victory in sight and the possibility of improving on the Net Run Rate, Shadab had even launched an attack on Raza, tonking the spinner for a six over the long on fielder. However, an attempt to repeat that in the next ball resulted in him mistiming it to the fielder at long off.

With only 43 runs needed off 38 balls, there still wasn't enough reason for Pakistan to panic. However, Raza trapped Haider Ali legbefore off the first ball to trigger a collapse. In his next over, he even scalped the wicket of Shan Masood with a fast and flat delivery down the legside. Masood fell over while trying to balance himself and the wicketkeeper swiftly whipped the bails off to reduce Pakistan to 94 for 6 in 15.1 overs.

What was the climax like?

The Zimbabwe bowlers used the dimensions of the field well with their lengths of operation on a fast and bouncy track. The hard lengths proved difficult for the lower order batters to put away and Richard Ngarava especially troubled Mohammad Wasim with it. However, with the required rate mounting up, a bluff yorker went wrong and Nawaz duly put away the full toss for a six and brought the equation down to 11 off the last over.

In the last over bowled by Brad Evans, Wasim cracked a full delivery down the ground for a boundary soon after Nawaz had picked three runs off the first balls to bring the equation down to 4 runs in 4 balls, and then reduced to 3 from 3.

The onus was once again on Nawaz in the last over, with the fate of the team in his hands, this time with the bat. And he failed to take the team over the line yet again. First, he was beaten by length delivery that zoomed past his chest and then top edged a swipe to mid off, leaving Shaheen Afridi to get the remaining three runs off the last ball.

He, along with Wasim at the other end, scampered through for a non-existent two and was eventually run out.

How did Pakistan's top order fare?

For as rare as it has been, for a second game in a row, Pakistan's much-famed openers - Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan - struggled against the new ball early on. Babar was squared up by Evans and got a leading edge to the point fielder while Rizwan chopped on a rising delivery from Blessing Muzarabani on to his stumps. Soon enough, even Iftikhar Ahmed was dismissed, getting caught down the leg to leave Pakistan reeling 36 for 3 in 7.4 overs.

Did Zimbabwe's batters struggle likewise?

Not at all. In fact when they decided to bat first, Babar wasn't too fussed. However, with no movement on offer for the Pakistani pacers early, Wesley Madevere and Craig Ervine were quick to put away their full length deliveries. In fact, Shaheen Afridi conceded 14 runs from his opening over - his most expensive first over in T20Is. Naseem Shah, who was greeted with a couple of boundaries to begin his day, didn't have it much easier either. The opening duo combined to add 42 runs in 5 overs before Ervine was hurried into a pull by Haris Rauf and caught at fine leg.

Did Pakistan trigger a collapse after that?

Not really. Even though both the openers fell in quick succession, followed by the dismissal of Milton Shumba, who offered an easy return catch to Shadab, their innings was controlled by Williams and Raza, who continued to keep the attack going. The veteran duo stitched 31 runs in 4.1 overs and had left a solid platform for a late assault.

Why did the assault never come?

Because in a matter of six balls, Shadab and Wasim snared four wickets, reducing Zimbabwe from 95 for 3 to 95 for 7. Evans and Luke Jongwe hit some useful runs towards the end, but a miserly spell by Haris Rauf ensured that they could only muster 130 for 8, even though 160 looked a likely total around the 14th over mark.

Where do they go from here?

Having shared points with South Africa and beaten Pakistan, Zimbabwe are well placed to make a strong case for a semifinal berth. They will now be heading eastward to Brisbane to face Bangladesh on October 30 with a 'nothing to lose' possibility no more applicable.

Pakistan, on the other hand, find themselves in a pretty tight situation and would need several results to go their way, starting with the one against Netherlands in Perth on Sunday.

Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 130/8 in 20 overs (Sean Williams 31, Brad Evans 19; Mohammad Wasim Jr 4-24, Shadab Khan 3-23) beat Pakistan 129/8 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 44, Mohammad Nawaz 22; Sikandar Raza 3-25, Brad Evans 2-25) by 1 runs

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