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Missing a bunch of their frontline players, a five-match one-day international series against a full-strength Pakistan outfit was always going to be hard work for Zimbabwe. They realised that in the opening game in Bulawayo, going down by a massive 201 runs. Fielding first, Imam-ul-Haq's second ODI ton in just his fifth game backed up by Fakhar Zaman's measured half-century and Asif Ali's late 25-ball 46 propelled Pakistan to a commanding 308/7. Zimbabwe's chase never took flight as Shadab Khan's career-best figures of 4/32 in nine overs saw the hosts bowled out for 107 in just 35 overs. With the second ODI slated to be played at the same venue, Pakistan will once again fancy their chances of coming out on top. Already high on confidence after convincingly winning the tri-nation Twenty20 International series recently, Pakistan will be keen on setting their 50-over record right. Ranked fifth on the ICC ODI Team Rankings, this gives Pakistan the perfect chance to score some crucial points on the table and they have started off on the right note.
Imam got going from the word go and found a perfect ally in Zaman, who has shown terrific form in recent times. The duo added 113 runs for the opening wicket, laying a solid platform for the rest of the batsmen to build on. Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik and Asif, on debut, all looked in fine touch. The bowlers as well found their rhythm nice and early. Each one of the five frontline bowlers picked up at least a wicket, not letting any of the Zimbabwe batsmen feel settled at any stage. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, were good in patches but were never able to gain any momentum. With the ball, they were not able to pick up wickets, which helped the visitors go past the 300-plus mark with ease. Barring Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani, the Zimbabwe new-ball bowlers, none of the others looked threatening at any stage and runs came quite easily for Pakistan. The batting then left a lot to be desired. Ryan Murray, on debut, was the only one who made life slightly tough for Pakistan, finishing with an unbeaten 32 in 48 deliveries, but there was no support from the other end. The Hamilton Masakadza-led unit will hope they find some sort of form going into the second game, otherwise another long day in the field could be in the offing.
Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza (c), Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Ryan Murray, Peter Moor, Tarisai Musakanda, Blessing Muzarabani, Liam Nicholas Roche, Malcolm Waller, Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Richard Ngarava, Donald Tiripano
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail
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