Mohammad Rizwan runs between the wickets as wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva fields during the first T20 match at the Harare Sports Club on Wednesday. AFP
Mohammad Rizwan hit a fighting 82 while leg-spinner Usman Qadir grabbed three wickets as Pakistan edged out Zimbabwe by 11 runs in the first Twenty20 international in Harare on Wednesday.
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.
Zimbabwe looked threatening at 77-2 in the tenth over but Qadir (3-29) and pacer Mohammad Hasnain (2-27) kept them to 138-7 in the allotted 20 overs.
Zimbabwe needed 20 off the last over but fast bowler Haris Rauf kept tight length to concede just eight to pull off a hard earned win, helping Pakistan to 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The second and third match will also be played in Harare on Friday and Sunday.
Luke Jongwe top-scored with a 23-ball 30 not out which included three boundaries and a six while opener Tinashe Kamunhukamwe scored 29.
Craig Ervine plays a shot as Mohammad Rizwan (R) and Tinashe Kamunhukamwe looks on. AFP
Pakistan started the innings on the wrong foot when their world famous batsman Babar Azam fell in the second over, playing a casual shot into the hands of cover fielder for just two.
Rizwan added two solid stands of 34 each with Fakhar Zaman (13) and debutant Danish Aziz (15) but senior batsman Mohammad Hafeez (five) and Haider Ali (five) failed.
Zimbabwe could have had more wickets had they not dropped four catches, the most costly was of Rizwan when on just 13.
Rizwan, who cracked ten boundaries and a six off 61 balls, smashed 20 off the final Richard Ngarava over to take Pakistan to a fighting total.
Part-tim spinner Wesley Madhevere (2-11) and seamer Jongwe (2-24) were Zimbabwe's successful bowlers.
After the loss of recalled Sharjeel Khan for 18 off the last ball of the fourth over, Rizwan and Azam put on 126 runs for the second wicket before the captain was out for 52 in the third ball of the final over.
South Africa need 19 runs to win off the last over, but medium pacer Faheem Ashraf held his nerves to keep the visitors down to 166-6 while Bjorn Fortuin (17 not out) and Dwaine Pretorius (15 not out) could manage only 15.
Tail-ender Hasan Ali finished with a seven-ball 20 not out as Pakistan overhauled a 165-run target in 18.4 overs to win the series 2-1, South Africa's first T20I series defeat in Asia. South Africa had previously won five and drawn one T20I series in Asia.
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