World Cup 2015: Pakistan register first win, beat Zimbabwe by 20 runs | WorldCup2015 | Hindustan Times
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World Cup 2015: Pakistan register first win, beat Zimbabwe by 20 runs

Embattled Pakistan finally opened their account in the cricket World Cup as they laboured to a narrow 20-run win over a spirited Zimbabwe in a Pool B match here on Sunday.

WorldCup2015 Updated: Mar 02, 2015 01:01 IST
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Embattled Pakistan finally opened their account in the cricket World Cup as they laboured to a narrow 20-run win over a spirited Zimbabwe in a Pool B match here on Sunday.

Opting to bat, Pakistan managed 235 for seven in their allotted 50 overs, before bowling out the African nation for 215 in 49.4 overs at the Gabba, keeping their slim hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinals alive.

Misbah-ul-Haq top-scored for Pakistan with a patient 121-ball 73 while seamer Wahab Riaz smashed a quickfire 54 off 46 balls to prop up Pakistan towards the end.

With the ball, Mohammad Irfan was the pick of Pakistan bowlers with figures of four for 30, and Riaz complemented the lanky bowler well as he returned figures of four for 45 to complete an all-round performance.

Zimbabwe and Pakistan now occupy the fifth and sixth positions, respectively, in the standings.

Chasing what looked like a gettable total against a Pakistani attack that struggled to contain the opposition batsmen in the tournament so far, Zimbabwe were off to a disastrous start losing both their openers with just 22 runs on the board.

Hamilton Masakadza (29) and Brendan Taylor (50) stabilised the innings with a 52-run partnership for the third wicket, before the former was snared by Irfan.

Taylor then added 54 runs for the fourth wicket with Sean Williams (33), but the Zimbabwe wicketkeeper got out at the wrong time to hand over the advantage to Pakistan.

Riaz picked up the wicket of Taylor, and then followed it up with two more scalps to leave the Africans reeling at 168 for eight in the 40th over.

Skipper Elton Chigumbura tried to make a match of it, but his 35 off as many balls was not enough to take his team through.

Pakistan have two points following a win and two defeats, same as Zimbabwe, but the minnows are a place above the Asians owing to better net run-rate.

Misbah and his men had found themselves on the receiving end of intense criticism after the mauling they received from India and West Indies in the first two matches.

Earlier, Pakistan's batting let the side down yet again as Zimbabwe restricted the former champions to 235 for seven.

Misbah-ul-Haq top-scored with a slow-paced knock before Riaz's quickfire innings, which added some zing to a lacklustre performance.

Pakistan, yet to register a win in the tournament, put together yet another shambolic batting performance after electing to bat on winning the toss.

The openers -- Nasir Jamshed (1) and Ahmed Shehzad (0) --were back in the pavillion within the first five overs with just four runs on the board.

Misbah, who has been criticised for scoring at a slow rate, steadied the ship with a couple of decent partnerships. He first shared a 54-run stand with Harris Sohail (27 off 44 balls) before stitching together 69 runs in the company of Umar Akmal (33 off 42 balls).

But the pace of scoring was such that Pakistan could not even capitalise on the fielding blunders that the Zimbabweans committed.

The proceedings became a tad exciting courtesy Riaz, who smashed half a dozen fours and a six during the course of his entertaining knock.

For Zimbabwe, paceman Tandai Chatara stood out with a three-wicket haul, which cost only 35 runs, off his 10 overs -- two of them maiden.

Left-arm spinner Sean Williams picked up two wickets, conceding 48 runs in his 10 overs, one of which was a maiden. In all, five of the 50 overs bowled were maiden.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq urged his side to follow the example of Imran Khan's victorious team, who won the World Cup when the tournament was last staged in Australia and New Zealand 23 years ago.

Pakistan, engulfed by a series of on and off-field controversies, which saw eight squad members fined for breaking a curfew and chief selector Moin Khan sent home for visiting a casino, have lost both of their opening matches -- by 76 runs to India and 150 runs against the West Indies.

They are bottom of Pool B and defeat by Zimbabwe will virtually condemn them to an early exit.

But Pakistan were also on the brink of bowing out in the first round before winning the 1992 World Cup under the leadership of inspirational all-rounder Imran.

"The important lesson is never give up," said Misbah.

"That's what you need to do as a player and as a team. That's what Imran Khan usually says about 1992."