Babar Azam plays a shot during the 2nd ODI against Zimbabwe at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Sunday. AP
Gulf Today Report
Off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed grabbed a maiden five-wicket haul while Babar Azam notched a half-century as Pakistan thumped Zimbabwe by six wickets to win the second One-Day International (ODI) in Rawalpindi on Sunday.
The young pacer Muhammad Musa recorded figures of 2/21 on his ODI debut. After winning the match against Zimbabwe, the Green Shirts go second on the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League table.
Ahmed spun a web around Zimbabwe's batsmen with figures of 5-40 to wreck them for a paltry 206 before Azam knocked an attractive 74-ball 77 not out to chase down the target in 35.2 overs.
Iftikhar Ahmed celebrates after taking the wicket of Tendai Chisoro. AP
Zimbabwe needed early wickets, but a solid opening stand of 68 between Imam-ul Haq (49) and Abid Ali (22) ensured Pakistan were set up nicely.
The win gives Pakistan an unassailable 2-0 lead after they won the first game by 26 runs on Friday. The final match is at the same venue on Tuesday.
Brendan Taylor (R top) celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Mohammad Rizwan. AFP
Left-arm spinner Tendai Chisoro (2-49) removed both the openers while Sean Williams dismissed debutant Haider Ali (29) but Azam and Ahmed (16 not out) completed the victory during their unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 46 runs.
Azam hit seven boundaries in his 16th ODI half-century, bringing up the victory with his second six.
Iftikhar Ahmed (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Sikandar Raza. AP
Skipper Azam said the win would add to his side's belief. "It was a good show by our young team and every win brings more confidence," said Azam, leading only for the second time in an ODI. "We improved on our batting from the first match which is a good sign."
In contrast to Pakistan's eighth consecutive ODI win, this was Zimbabwe's tenth successive loss in the format, and left stand-in head coach Douglas Hondo disappointed.
"We needed to improve on the first game but we could not," said Hondo. "We did not play our full 50 overs which was disappointing and we need a quick fix."
Pakistan handed ODI debuts to batsman Haider Ali and paceman Musa Khan in two changes from the first game while Zimbabwe kept an unchanged eleven.
The actual match finished in a tie after Pakistan number ten Musa Khan cracked the final delivery of the 50th over from Richard Ngarava for a boundary to level the scores at 278.
"We have selected a squad after analysing the performance in New Zealand and areas of improvement are identified." Fast bowler Hasan Ali has regained fitness from his back problem and returns two years after last playing a test match against South Africa in 2019.
Pakistan managed 149-7 in their 20 overs with their in-form wicketkeeper batsman Rizwan anchoring the innings after they were sent in to bat.
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