Sikandar Raza new
Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Haider Ali during their Twenty20 World Cup match in Perth on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Pakistan’s one-run loss in a thriller to spirited Zimbabwe has come as a shock to the Green Shirts supporters. It can rightly termed as the biggest upset of the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. Pakistan have only themselves to blame for this ‘embarrassing’ defeat against the minnows Zimbabwe, who have lost to Pakistan 16 times in the last 17 encounters.

Pakistani bowlers, despite being complacent at the start of the match, did a good job in restricting Zimbabwe to 130. Fast bowler Mohammed Wasim Jr was outstanding with figures of 4-24 in four overs, while Haris Rauf was too hot for Zimbabwean batters to handle as he gave away only 12 runs in his four-over spell with one wicket.

However, after splendid show with the ball, Pakistan openers, skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, failed once again. The world top two-ranked batters continued to disappoint with the bat in the World Cup and Iftikhar Ahmed, who was in good touch against India in the last match, could not repeat his feat and got out early.

Brilliant spell

It was left to Shan Masood and vice-captain Shadab Khan to steady the innings in the middle but they failed to carve out a plan to chase down the meagre total of 130 and fell cheaply when it was required the most. Mohammed Nawaz and Wasim Jr tried but it was too late as the Zimbabwean pacers choked the Pakistan batters in the death overs after a brilliant spell by spinner Sikandar Raza, who got rid of both Shadab and Shan Masood when they were looking dangerous and paved the way for a great victory for his team. He deserved to be declared man of the match with three for 24.

The Men in Green not only continued their poor form with the bat, but they also looked quite complacent on the field with three dropped catches and giving away to many extra runs in twos and threes for the Zimbabwe batters. Pakistan need to go back to drawing board to chalk out a strategy for their next three must-win matches to qualify for the semi-finals. It’s time to bring in left-hander Fakhar Zaman in the playing XI to strengthen batting line up.

A timely reminder

Raza, born in Sialkot in Pakistan, ‘timed’ his match-winning show to perfection and said that he is lost for words due to the emotions after scripting one of the greatest wins in Zimbabwe’s history.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this bunch of boys. The way our seamers started at the top as well is just unbelievable and the way we backed it up in the field and the way we kept believing, I don’t think there’s any words I can share right now” the all-rounder told the official broadcasters during the presentation ceremony.

Zimbabwe win
Zimbabwe players celebrate their victory against Pakistan. Image Credit: Courtesy: ICC

Raza also wasted no time in reminding his captain on the deal that he owes him a watch and also thanked former Australian captain Ricky Ponting for his motivational words.

“When we were coming to Australia, I said to my captain, ‘If you become man of the match, pick any watch from the catalogue and I’ll buy you. But if I win man of the match, then you’re gonna buy me one. So I’m just reminding him that you now owe me three watches now actually. One more thing I thought. There was a small clip sent to me this morning of Ricky Ponting having a small word. I was excited, I was nervous, I was thrilled about today. The motivation was always there but if I needed a little push, I thought that clip did a wonder so thanks very much to Ricky as well.”

Elated Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine, responding to Raza, said that he’s going to go broke by the time Zimbabwe finish their World Cup campaign.

“It’s so special. Especially for the work that we did to get into the Super 12s and we didn’t want our tournament to end there. We wanted to come in and play some really good cricket against some top teams and I thought we did that exceptionally well today. Raza came to the party as he always does and picked up a few crucial wickets in the middle there.

Lifting our spirits

“I think he’s got three Man of the Matches, so I’m gonna be broke by the time we get home. I just want to say thanks to the Zim support that came out today to support us. You guys really lift our spirits wherever we go so a special thanks.”

Pakistan captain Babar Azam said he was disappointed with the team’s performance and felt the batting was not up to the mark and felt that the team need to use the powerplay better while batting and bowling.

“We were not up to the mark in batting. We had a bad first six overs, but Shadab and Shan built a partnership but unfortunately Shadab got out and then back to back wickets built pressure on the team. First six overs we are not using the new ball well, but we finished well. We’ll sit together and learn from our mistakes and come back hard next match.”