Pakistan 272 for 9 ( Afridi 85, Mupariwa 4-46) beat
Zimbabwe 235 for 7 (Williams 71, Taylor 55) by 37 runs
Pakistan wrapped up the Mobilink Cup with a comfortable 37-run victory over Zimbabwe in what was, ultimately a dour, lifeless encounter in Multan. The only spark was provided, inevitably, by Shahid Afridi, who lit up the affair with a 52-ball 85, in the process rescuing Pakistan from a perilous 78 for 5. Zimbabwe battled away in their chase of 273, in particular Sean Williams and Brendan Taylor, but as has been the case at various points on this tour, they let healthy advantages slip.
In Hyderabad, they frittered away a promising position going in to the final ten overs and then dropped catches to make matters worse. Here, they had Pakistan reeling halfway through their innings, but somehow managed to concede nearly 200 runs in the second half, to essentially, the lower-order.
Until then, they had been disciplined, which was the doing mostly of Tawanda Mupariwa and fine opening spells from Elton Chigumbura and Gary Brent. The tone was set from the very first over of the innings, Chigumbura probing outside Salman Butt's off stump. It was a maiden and many more followed as Brent, at Mark Ealham's pace, found some lovely away-going curve against a left-handed opening pair.
Brent finally found reward for an outstanding spell when Butt cut to point in the 15th over. Thereafter, as Chigumbura finished his quota, Mupariwa took charge with a career- best spell. His first ball, a delicious, tempting in-dipper trapped Younis Khan in front. In his very next over, Nasir Jamshed pulled straight to short midwicket.
Zimbabwe were ecstatic when Shoaib Malik was run out, and they went beyond as Mupariwa reeled in the big one, Mohammad Yousuf. In truth, they didn't so much lose grip as have it snatched away from them by Afridi. He came in to this series the subject of debate: selectors wanted him to play, the team management were not keen. And yet, he has been indispensable thus far, taking wickets in Karachi, taking Pakistan over the line in Hyderabad and saving some blushes here.
With six sixes in the match, Shahid Afridi equalled Sanath Jayasuriya'srecord for most number of sixes in ODIs
Misbah-ul-Haq provided typically Misbhah-esque support, running hard, improvising and finding the occasional boundary, but this was Afridi's show. Keith Dabengwa was lofted and bludgeoned as a century stand came up, but just when a first hundred in nearly three years loomed, he miscued Mupariwa to point. A few overs later Misbah fell in typically Misbah-esque fashion, reverse-sweeping, but Pakistan pushed on to a daunting total.
Zimbabwe still had a chance, as Pakistan's bowling hadn't made an impression through the series and the wicket was flat. Sohail Tanvir, the one bowler who has made a mark, stymied early, fanciful notions sending back both openers. When Tatenda Taibu was run out in the 15th with just 50 on the board, it seemed over.
But Williams and Taylor then revived the innings with a partnership which put Zimbabwe in control of another portion of the game. They went about it intelligently, picking up the few boundaries they could, but hustling every run on offer. Williams hit three boundaries in his 50 and Taylor only two, yet the two put on 105 at just under five an over.
Man of The Match: Shahid Afridi