Pakistan eased to a 2-0 series win over Zimbabwe with a victory by an innings and 147 runs in their second Test at Harare Sports Club.

The hosts won the first Test inside three days but were just about taken to a fourth day this time around after Regis Chakabva and Brendan Taylor stood firm for Zimbabwe.

However, Pakistan required just one wicket in Monday's session, and they got it in five overs thanks to Shaheen Afridi, who finished on 5-52 by taking Luke Jongwe (37).

Jongwe and Blessing Muzarabani initially looked comfortable and added 11 runs to Zimbabwe's tally before the former was coaxed into a drive by Shaheen.

The ball edged through to Mohammad Rizwan to send Zimbabwe packing for 231 as Shaheen joined Hasan Ali and Nauman Ali in taking five wickets in the one-sided series.

It marked the first time Pakistan had three bowlers claim five wickets in the same Test. Such a feat has only been achieved six times in Test cricket history and not at all since 1993.

Hasan Ali was named the player of the series for his twin five-wicket hauls in the first and second Tests, which he put down to his hard work paying off.

"It's been a good tour for me," he said. "The pitch wasn't good for bowling, getting slower every day. 

"But the plan was simple: keep bowling stump to stump and let the batsmen make mistakes. Whenever you execute well, it's a pleasurable moment for me. 

"I'm very happy. I had hard work in the previous year. It is paying off and I'm looking forward to continuing this performance for my team."

Pakistan are on the brink of a 2-0 series win against Zimbabwe after the hosts finished day three of the second Test on 220-9.

After the tourists declared at 510-8, Zimbabwe were forced into the follow-on thanks to a career-best five-for from Hasan Ali (5-27).

Zimbabwe managed only 15 runs in 13 overs at one stage of the opening hour as any thoughts of a chase seemed to dissipate.

They did at least offer sterner resistance over the subsequent 30 overs, reaching 132 before being sent in to bat again.

Nauman Ali (5-86) skittled Kevin Kasuza for 22 and Mohammad Rizwan caught Tarisai Musakanda for the loss of just eight runs, as Shaheen Afridi (4-45) also smelled blood.

However, Zimbabwe began to get a grip on proceedings through an admirable stand from Regis Chakabva (80) and captain Brendan Taylor (49).

Taylor in particular seemed to enter short-form mode, swinging for 10 fours from just 31 balls before being removed at 142-3 as Rizwan and Shaheen combined again.

Chakabva was taken at slip by a good catch from Babar Azam, and suddenly the win was in Pakistan's sights, Milton Shumba caught for 16 before consecutive balls from Nauman accounted for Donald Tiripano and Roy Kaia as he reached 300 first-class wickets.

Shaheen bowled Tendai Chisoro for eight and Richard Ngarava for a duck but Luke Jongwe (31 not out) dug deep to keep the contest alive.

As the shadows lengthened in Harare, Pakistan switched to the spin attack but could not find the breakthrough and must return on Monday to finish the job.

 

Red-hot Hasan

Hasan has enjoyed spectacular form since returning to Test cricket this year and made it 24 wickets in five innings as he dismantled the Zimbabwe middle order in the early session.

Although he could not add to his tally as Nauman led the charge in the second innings, this was still a Test to remember.

 

Taylor fights fire with fire

After a first-innings knock of just nine, Taylor opted to attack the bowlers when he came out again, swinging for the boundary with abandon.

His 49 from just 31 balls was an entertaining ray of light for a home side for whom this contest has looked over for some time.

Pakistan strengthened their grip on the second Test against Zimbabwe in Harare after an unbeaten 215 from Abid Ali allowed the tourists to declare on 510-8.

And Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 52-4 in reply by the end of day two as Pakistan closed on a dominant sweep of the two-match series.

The touring side, who won the opener by an innings and 116 runs, resumed on 268-4 on Saturday and could not be slowed.

It took Zimbabwe 54 balls to remove nightwatchman Sajid Khan (20), installed alongside Abid after a belated flurry of wickets on Friday, although Abid's scoring was only steady as Mohammad Rizwan and Hasan Ali also departed.

The arrival of Nauman Ali at the crease prompted a huge partnership of 169 and the duo looked immovable at the close of the second session.

Nauman was just seven shy of a maiden century, having been out for a duck in the previous match, and this looming milestone appeared to play into the thinking as Pakistan batted again in the evening.

But after Nauman hit the first ball for four, he was stumped from the second and Babar Azam swiftly declared.

That left time for the tourists to chase early wickets in the Zimbabwe innings and veteran Test debutant Tabish Khan found joy inside the second over as he trapped Tarisai Musakanda.

Kevin Kasuza, captain Brendan Taylor and Milton Shumba also departed before the day was out, with Sajid continuing an enjoyable outing with his first Test wicket.

The hosts again face a mountain to climb simply to send Pakistan in to bat for a second time, already with only six wickets remaining and 259 off the follow-on mark of 311.

Making hay in Harare

Abid scored centuries in two of his first three Test innings but had failed to supply a third since coming into this match. His average stood at 37.

Now he has a first double-hundred and a batting average of 49.6. The batsman found an accommodating Zimbabwe attack but capitalised far more effectively than many of his team-mates.

Well worth the wait

Tabish made his first-class debut in 2002-03 but only now, aged 36, has been handed his chance in the Test arena.

Not called into action until the sixth session of the match, he soon made up for lost time with just his sixth delivery, nipping back into Musakanda to set Pakistan on their way.

Abid Ali and Azhar Ali each hit centuries to put Pakistan in control on day one of the second Test in Harare before three late wickets from Blessing Muzarabani hauled Zimbabwe back into the contest.

Opener Abid carried his bat through the day to reach stumps on 118 not out and Azhar struck 126, having combined in a mammoth second-wicket stand of 236.

But after toiling on a sluggish surface for most of the day, Zimbabwe and Muzarabani (3-41) made the second new ball pay, as skipper Babar Azam and Fawad Alam followed Azhar back to the pavilion in short order and Pakistan closed on 268-4.

The hosts could at least reflect on having bookended the day effectively.

Pakistan, who handed a debut to veteran seamer Tabish Khan, batted after Babar won the toss, although Imran Butt scratched around for two runs from 20 deliveries before miscuing a pull at Richard Ngarava (1-35).

Given how Ngarava and Muzarabani impressed in their initial burst and what followed, it appears how each team uses the new ball will be vital on a benign Harare pitch.

Although Abid was the more circumspect throughout, the two centurions picked up the pace after lunch as Zimbabwe's discipline began to wane – Azhar enjoying himself backward of square and through midwicket, while Abid showed lovely timing through the covers.

After Zimbabwe persuaded the umpires to change the ball in the 53rd over, slow left-armer Tendai Chisoro (0-80) dropped short and Abid smashed the ball into Roy Kaia's knee, forcing the short leg from the field after lengthy treatment.

Azhar was the first to three figures off 198 balls, while Abid followed from his 224th delivery before a mini-collapse from 248-1.

Muzarabani drew Azhar into a drive on the up, seeing him pouched at gully by Milton Shumba, before Babar edged to Kevin Kasuza in the cordon and Alam dragged on after struggling under a barrage of short deliveries.

Abid and Azhar set up Pakistan for series win

Abid would not have envisaged being joined by Sajid Khan to see out the day, but he will resume alongside the nightwatchman on Saturday having put questions over his place in the side to bed. The opener had a top score of 26 in his 10 Test innings preceding this tour, meaning he needed to back up a 60 in the initial encounter with something more substantial.

There were no such doubts over the 36-year-old Azhar's credentials, but his century was also a redemptive one after being sacked as captain last November.

Babar fed up of counting his Blessings

Azhar's successor Babar has generally become Pakistan's sure thing across all formats and was in blistering form during the recent white-ball trip to South Africa. Not here, though, as he followed up a first-ball duck in his team's innings victory last time out with another single-figure score.

Muzarabani appears to be a big part of the problem. Since returning to international cricket last year, the seamer has removed Babar on six occasions.

Pakistan will be aiming to extend their winning run in Test cricket when they take on Zimbabwe in the second and final match of the series, which starts on Friday.

Babar Azam's side crushed their hosts by an innings at the Harare Sports Club in the previous meeting, making it three victories on the spin in the format.

Another success at the same venue will see Pakistan achieve their best Test-win streak since managing five consecutive triumphs between December 2011 and February 2012.

Zimbabwe, in contrast, have not prevailed on home soil since September 2013, recording two draws and eight defeats since that last success over Pakistan.

Their problems in the opener stemmed from a lack of runs; bowled out for 176 first time around, they managed just 134 in the second innings.

No home player registered a half-century as Pakistan pace bowler Hasan Ali finished with nine wickets in the match to help his team charge over the line inside three days.

Pakistan could even afford for skipper Babar to get a first-ball duck as they piled up 426 in their one and only innings, Fawad Alam leading the way with 140 as he showed Zimbabwe how to play on a sluggish pitch, batting for nearly five hours in total.

The all-rounder's century was his third in five Tests, having made 102 against New Zealand last December and then 109 in the first Test with South Africa in Karachi in January.

Prince Masvaure did not bat for Zimbabwe in their second innings due to a thumb injury that rules him out of contention. However, captain Sean Williams could be fit to return to action, while Craig Ervine and Wesley Madhevere may also be back to bolster the home team's line-up.

 

Hasan on the rise

Pace bowler Hasan claimed career-best figures of 5-36 in Zimbabwe's second innings, his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket in 2021. Indeed, he has taken 21 scalps at an average of just 15.5 in the format this calendar year.

His reward is a move up to 20th in the ICC Test rankings for bowlers, having only been recalled to the XI earlier this year for the home series with South Africa after a two-year spell out in the cold.

Taylor-made milestone in sight

Zimbabwe's stand-in captain Brendan Taylor admitted his team failed to capitalise on the opportunity to bat first after winning the toss in the opener, bundled out inside two sessions.

He will hope to contribute more himself, particularly with a landmark in sight. Taylor is 66 away from becoming only the third man to post 1,000 Test runs at Harare Sports Club, a feat only previously achieved by Andy and Grant Flower.

Key match facts

- Zimbabwe have managed to record one multi-game Test series victory over Pakistan (D1, L5); after going 0-1 down in this two-game series, they cannot improve upon that record this time around.
- Pakistan have won five of the past six Tests between the nations, while Zimbabwe have gone six without success at Harare Sports Club (D1, L5).
- Zimbabwe managed to catch nine of their 10 opportunities in the field during the series opener, while Pakistan dropped four catches and only recorded a 60 per cent success rate (6/10).
- Donald Tiripano was responsible for eight of the 10 runs scored from reverse sweeps in the first Test; he has logged more runs from that stroke than any other batsman in Tests during 2021 (35).
- Zimbabwe bowled 14 full tosses in their one innings in the series opener, almost three times the number Pakistan logged in their two attempts (five).

Hasan Ali claimed personal Test-best figures as Pakistan ended their wait for an away victory with a hammering of Zimbabwe on day three.

The tourists had gone 11 matches without success as the touring side in the longest format, stretching back to a win at Lord's in 2018, but wrapped up a crushing victory by an innings and 116 runs at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Hasan took 5-36 - including his 50th Test scalp - as Zimbabwe were bowled out for only 134 in the final session. Those were his best innings figures in a Test, and the paceman finished with a match haul of 9-89.

Nauman Ali also chipped in with 2-27 as the hosts folded from 92-2, Tarisai Musakanda top-scoring with 43 at the top of the order.

Pakistan were earlier bowled out for 426, Blessing Muzarabani claiming 4-73, as they secured a huge first-innings lead of 250 runs.

Babar Azam's side had resumed on 374-6 and Fawad Alam moved from 108 to 140 before he was superbly caught behind by Regis Chakabva slashing at a delivery from Muzarabani.

Hasan also fell to Muzarabani for 30, while Donald Tiripano (3-89) and Richard Ngarava (2-104) also struck before Zimbabwe folded with the bat for a second time in a short match.

 

Dream return for Hasan

Hasan had been absent from the Pakistan Test team for two years before making his return in January.

The 26-year-old was named man of the match after taking 10 wickets in the second Test against South Africa and carried on where he left off in Harare.

Hasan has taken 21 wickets in three Tests in a dream comeback, reaching the landmark of 50 wickets in the longest format in only his 12th game. He was unsurprisingly rewarded for a stunning performance with another man of the match award.

 

Zimbabwe batting frailties exploited

Zimbabwe were always going to be up against it after they were skittled out in two sessions on day one.

They showed some resistance second time around but then lost seven wickets for 42 runs. Prince Masvaure was unable to bat due to a hand injury,

Fawad Alam scored his fourth Test century to put Pakistan in complete command of the first Test against Zimbabwe on day two in Harare.

The tourists started the day in an extremely strong position, having skittled Zimbabwe for 176 and then reached stumps on 103 on day one.

Openers Imran Butt and Abid Ali (60) were well set and they each kicked on to post half-centuries, Butt coming nine runs short of a hundred.

But, after a show of resistance from the Zimbabwe attack, which included Pakistan captain Babar Azam going for a duck, it was Fawad who stole the show with an unbeaten 108.

He led Pakistan to 374-6 at the close, a lead of 198, and will Hasan Ali (21 off 18) for company at the crease as they look to further their control on day three.

Butt and Abid put on 115 for the first wicket, however, after the latter edged to first slip to give the breakthrough to Zimbabwe, the hosts continued their inroads as Donald Tiripano removed Azhar Ali (36) and then dismissed Babar first ball when the skipper pushed a full delivery to straight mid-on.

Yet by that point, Pakistan already had a 50-run lead and Fawad ensured that advantage would be added to considerably.

He reaped the rewards for a measured innings and his century was brought up with a four following a misfield at mid-off.

Mohammad Rizwan's 45 also helped Pakistan's cause, while Hasan struck two sixes and a four to accelerate things further before stumps.

Fawad continues fine form

Three of Fawad's centuries have come since December 2020, with the left-hander making the most of the second act of his Test career having spent more than 10 years in the wilderness.

He scored 102 against New Zealand last Boxing Day and then 109 versus South Africa on home soil in January. His career-best remains his 168 against Sri Lanka back in 2009, but that total could be under threat if he maintains his composure here.

Babar tripped up by Donald

An ill-advised shot from Babar in which he was tempted in a risky drive off the bowling of Tiripano saw him go for a golden duck for the first time in his career. It is his first of any variety in Test cricket since October 2018 against Australia.

Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali tore through Zimbabwe as Pakistan dominated day one of the Test series at the Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe were bowled out for only 176 after Brendan Taylor, captain in the absence of the injured Sean Williams, won the toss and opted to bat first.

Afridi and Ali took four wickets apiece as tourists as Zimbabwe were skittled out before tea and Pakistan looked set for a substantial lead after closing on 103 without loss.

Roy Kaia, one of three Zimbabwe debutants, top scored with 48 but it was all about Pakistan's new-ball duo at the start of the two-match series.

Afridi (4-43) claimed his 50th Test scalp in only his 16th match, the same number as it took the great Wasim Akram to reach that landmark, and Ali (4-53) was also outstanding.

They bowled with great skill and discipline along with Nauman Ali (1-29), reducing the hosts to 30-4 before fellow debutant Milton Shumba provided some support for Kaia in a fifth-wicket stand of 59.

Donald Tiripano made an unbeaten 28 but Zimbabwe's shortcomings with the bat were exposed as Pakistan look to end a run of 11 games without a victory away from home in the longest format.

An unbroken opening stand from Abid Ali (56) and Imran Butt (43) put Pakistan in an ominous position at stumps.

 

Afridi emulates Akram

At just 21-year-old, Afridi has raced to half a century of Test wickets at the same age and in as many matches as Pakistan legend Akram.

Afridi and Ali played a big hand in a Test series win over South Africa and they did damage with the red ball once again as Zimbabwe bid to secure a first Test away win for almost three years - the previous success coming against England at Lord's.

Kevin Kasuza dragged on an Ali delivery before Zimbabwe had a run on the board and they were 30-4 when Taylor fell to the same bowler for only five.

They showed some fight after lunch, but lost their last five wickets for 52 runs, with Afridi cleaning up Tendai Chisoro for his 50th scalp before bowling Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava.

 

Kaia a plus, umpire Rusere makes history

One positive for Zimbabwe was an encouraging knock from Kaia, who showed some resistance after coming in at number six in the opening session.

He struck seven boundaries in almost two hours at the crease, just missing out on a half-century on debut when was snared leg before by the excellent Ali.

One Zimbabwean who will have fond memories of the day is umpire Langton Rusere, who became the first Black African to stand in a Test match.

Pakistan will start a two-match series against Zimbabwe on Thursday scenting a great opportunity to secure an elusive Test away win.

Mohammad Rizwan starred as Pakistan won a thrilling Twenty20 series at the start of the tour, the in-form opener moving into the top 10 in the batting rankings as a result of his heroics in a 2-1 triumph.

The tourists whitewashed South Africa 2-0 in their last Test series earlier this year too, yet they have gone 11 games without a victory away from home in the longest format.

You have to go back to the first Test against England at Lord's three years ago for their previous Test win on tour, but Babar Azam's side will be expected to put that right at the Harare Sports Club - where both matches will be played.

Pakistan will have to do without star spinner Yasir Shah, who is absent due to a knee injury, at a venue where they have won four out of six Tests.

Zimbabwe have included the uncapped Luke Jongwe, Richard Ngarava, Roy Kaia, Milton Shumba, and Tanaka Chivanga in a youthful squad.

Sikandar Raza misses out against his country of birth as he receives treatment for a bone marrow infection, while Craig Ervine and Wesley Madhevere are ruled out due to injury.

The outcome was a 1-1 draw the last time Pakistan played a Test series in Zimbabwe eight years ago.

Zimbabwe's only Test series success against Pakistan came back in 1998 and it would be a big surprise if they can repeat that feat against a side needing a whitewash to retain fifth place in the rankings.

Rizwan the man

Rizwan starred in the T20 fixtures between the nations, smashing an unbeaten 91 in the decider after cracking a rapid 82 not out in the opening game.

He was also player of the Test series in the triumph over South Africa, the highlight for the wicketkeeper-batsman being a maiden hundred in the longest format in Rawalpindi to help raise his average to 44.35.

Where there's a Will, there's a way

Zimbabwe will be counting on captain Sean Williams to lead by example with the bat once again. He has averaged 96.2 in seven Test innings since the start of 2020, scoring three centuries in his past five knocks.

Williams was named player of the series against Afghanistan this month, but an unbeaten 151 in the second Test was not enough to prevent his side from having to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Key match facts

- Zimbabwe have only managed to record one multi-game bilateral Test series victory over Pakistan (D1 L5); this will be the first such series between the two nations since 2013, however.

- Zimbabwe ended an eight-match winless streak on home soil against Pakistan when they last faced each other in Tests, doing so by a margin of 24 runs.

- Pakistan come into this match having logged back-to-back Test victories - they have not managed to register three wins on the spin since 2016.

- No side has a lower catching success rate than Pakistan in Tests since 2020 (70 per cent - level with West Indies); only Afghanistan (83 per cent ) and Bangladesh (81 per cent) have held on to a better share of their catching opportunities than Zimbabwe in that time (80 per cent).

- Shaheen Afridi requires two wickets to bring up 50 in Test cricket; he returned figures of 4-51 in his most recent innings (v South Africa, February 2021).

Babar Azam became the fastest player to reach 2,000 Twenty20 runs in international cricket as he helped Pakistan secure a series-clinching victory over Zimbabwe on Sunday.

Captain Babar made 52 but it was Mohammad Rizwan's unbeaten 91 that powered Pakistan to 165-3 in the third and final game at the Harare Sports Club.

That total proved beyond Zimbabwe, though Wesley Madhevere (59) had the hosts in contention. They were 102-1 at one stage in reply, only to lose three wickets for eight runs to scupper their hopes.

Tadiwanashe Marumani departed for 35 to trigger the mini collapse and, despite 20 from Brendan Taylor, the innings fell away in the closing stages, finishing up at 141-7 to lose by 24 runs.

Hasan Ali was the star performer for Pakistan with the ball, taking career-best figures of 4-18, as the tourists bounced back after a first ever loss to Zimbabwe in the format on Friday.

With his side bowled out for 99 when chasing in the previous game, Babar opted to bat first after winning the toss. Sharjeel Khan fell for 18 in the powerplay but the skipper combined with opener Rizwan to put on a crucial second-wicket stand worth 126.

The partnership eventually came to an end when Babar was caught in the deep in the final over, with Fakhar Zaman then falling immediately in similar fashion as he registered a first-ball duck.

Luke Jongwe benefited from the late double to finish with figures of 3-37, giving him nine wickets in the series at an average of 8.77. He had claimed 4-18 in his team's victory but the hosts were unable to pull off a repeat result.

The two nations now switch their focus to Test cricket. A two-match series begins in Harare on Thursday.


Rizwan gets maximum rewards

As was the case in the opening fixture, the home team appeared in a strong position in a run chase, only to falter as the finishing line drew into sight. Madhevere hit seven of his team's 16 fours, yet they did not manage a solitary six between them.

Indeed, Rizwan was the only player to clear the boundary rope in the match, doing so three times as he registered a fourth unbeaten half-century in his past seven T20 games.

Captain fantastic in fine form

The ever-consistent Babar has now managed 50 or more on 11 occasions in T20 cricket for Pakistan since the start of 2019, a fine run of form that has helped him reach a notable personal milestone.

He made it to the 2,000-run mark in 52 innings - four fewer than India skipper Virat Kohli. His career average in the format now stands at a hugely impressive 47.32.

Zimbabwe registered a first win over Pakistan in Twenty20 cricket as the hosts came out on top in a low-scoring contest at the Harare Sports Club, levelling the three-match series at 1-1 in the process.

A 16th successive loss in games between the nations appeared on the cards when Zimbabwe laboured to 118-9 on a slow, used pitch.

Opener Tinashe Kamunhukamwe made 34 from 40 deliveries while Regis Chakabva added some much-needed impetus during his quick-fire 18, including hitting one of only two sixes in the innings.

However, Pakistan found the going tough in reply, even with captain Babar Azam making 41 at the top of the order.

The right-handed batsman hit five boundaries in a 45-ball knock that came to an end when he became the second of four wickets for Luke Jongwe, hitting a slower ball to Wesley Madhevere in the deep.

Pakistan were 78-3 at one stage but their final seven wickets went down for just 21 runs as they were bowled out for 99 in 19.5 overs.

Mohammad Rizwan (13) and Danish Aziz (22) were players to join Babar on double figures, with tail-end trio Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf and debutant Arshad Iqbal all dismissed in the final over without adding a run to the total.

Success at last for Zimbabwe

This was a long overdue victory for Zimbabwe, and not just because of their sorry run of results against Pakistan. They had not won a T20 contest at the ground in Harare since beating India there back in June 2016, losing seven on the spin since.

However, their impressive triumph on Friday sets up a winner-takes-all showdown in Sunday's finale, a game which precedes a two-Test series.

Dialling up impressive numbers

Jongwe's final figures of 4-18 are the best recorded by a Zimbabwe bowler in a T20 international fixture.

He celebrated each success by taking off one shoe and pretending to make a telephone call. It is fair to say Pakistan did not have his number, as a shocking collapse condemned them to just a third defeat in 10 outings in the format.

Mohammad Rizwan punished Zimbabwe for an early dropped catch as Pakistan claimed a hard-fought 11-run victory in the Twenty20 series opener on Wednesday.

Fresh from a 3-1 win in South Africa, Pakistan relied on Rizwan's unbeaten 82 to steer them to a competitive total of 149-7 after being put into bat at Harare Sports Club.

The wicketkeeper-batsman hit 10 fours and a solitary six in his outstanding 61-ball knock; the next highest score in the innings came from debutant Danish Aziz, who made 15 before becoming one of two wickets to fall to Luke Jongwe.

Zimbabwe did not help themselves with a number of missed opportunities in the field, including Tinashe Kamunhukamwe at mid-on failing to grasp an opportunity presented by Rizwan when he had just 13 to his name.

The home team still looked in a promising position in reply when they reached 77-2 in the 11th over, despite two early strikes from Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain.

Kamunhukamwe had batted well to reach 29 but his departure, stumped having charged down the track to off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, signalled a collapse. Craig Ervine fell in the next over for a top score of 34 as Zimbabwe slipped to 95-6.

Usman Qadir did much of the damage as he claimed 3-29 and, despite some late boundaries from Jongwe (30 not out from 23 balls), Zimbabwe  finished up on 138-7.

The second T20 takes place at the same venue on Friday, with the final game in the series scheduled for Sunday.

Rizwan in the runs again

Opener Rizwan registered his third half-century in five T20 games – his other two outings in that stretch saw him dismissed without scoring in the four-match series against the Proteas. Zimbabwe were left to rue their failure to dismiss him cheaply, particularly as he helped plunder 20 runs from the final over.

Zimbabwe left in a spin

Qadir – the son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul – sparked a middle-order collapse by Zimbabwe that shifted the game in Pakistan's favour. He has now taken 11 wickets at an average of 8.09 against them in four appearances in the shortest format, as well as owning a miserly economy rate of 5.93 runs per over.

Misbah-ul-Haq expects no favours from Zimbabwe as he takes his in-form Pakistan side into their latest southern African assignment.

Last week, Pakistan wrapped up an impressive 3-1 T20I series victory over South Africa and they now take on neighbouring Zimbabwe in a three-match rubber in the shortest international format, starting in Harare on Friday.

Those games will precede a two-match Test series and the omens are not good for Zimbabwe.

Sean Williams' side have not qualified for this year's T20 World Cup and are not taking part in the World Test Championship, with Pakistan having won all 14 previous T20 meetings between the countries.

Nevertheless, Misbah insists he will not accept any of his players treating this latest assignment as a formality.

"Every series is an opportunity to learn. The team is not that experienced, except for three or four guys," he said. "We'd like to give chances to some of the younger guys and see how it goes. But at the same time, Zimbabwe are a gutsy side.

"They've got nothing to lose. They play without pressure. Hopefully, we play our best cricket and play to our standards."

Williams does not necessarily concur, arguing that being faced with elite performers such as Pakistan's captain and star batsman Babar Azam brings a pressure all of its own.

"Pressure is something you can't touch and you can't see. It's just a feeling," said captain and left-handed batsman Williams, who is 73 shy of becoming the second Zimbabwean to 1,000 T20I runs.

"Once we can get the players to control that, we will be on the right track. It is going to be a test but we are going to back our youngsters and give them a good run."

Misbah and Babar are likely to give strong consideration to including leg-spinner Usman Qadir given Zimbabwe's struggles against Afghanistan's Rashid Khan, who took 11 wickets in a recent Test clash between the countries.

Craig Ervine and Brendan Taylor are back to bolster the hosts' batting line-up after missing that trip to the UAE while Wellington Masakadza and Tapiwa Mufudza are vying to be Williams' go-to spin option.

Babar primed to pile on the runs

Having replaced Virat Kohli atop the ODI world rankings, Babar displayed sensational T20 form against South Africa when he hit a magnificent 122 in a successful chase of 204, when Pakistan cantered home by nine wickets at Centurion. Operating at the top of the order, he should claim the 60 runs he needs to reach 2,000 in T20Is sooner rather than later.

14 and counting

Zimbabwe have a considerable tale of woe to try to overturn in this one-sided rivalry. When the sides met in November last year, Pakistan chased successfully in all three matches – showcasing prowess that was once again on display at South Africa. That run of defeats surely has to end eventually.

Former Zimbabwe captain and coach Heath Streak has been banned for eight years for breaching the ICC's anti-corruption code.

The former fast bowler accepted five charges from 2016 to 2018 relating to games including internationals and domestic Twenty20 competitions.

Streak admitted the charges and agreed the sanction with the ICC in lieu of a tribunal hearing, and will be free to resume his involvement in cricket on March 28, 2029.

Alex Marshall, the general manager of the ICC's integrity unit, said: "Heath Streak is an experienced former international cricketer and national team coach, who had participated in numerous anti-corruption education sessions and was fully aware of his responsibilities under the Code.

"As a former captain and coach, he held a position of trust and owed a duty to uphold the integrity of the game. He breached the Code on several occasions, including facilitating the approach of four other players. At times, he also sought to obstruct and delay our investigation.

"The offences did not affect the outcomes of any relevant matches and Mr Streak has agreed to assist the ICC anti-corruption education programme for which we are grateful. He has also expressed his remorse and contrition and entered this agreed sanction decision to avoid the need for a full disciplinary process. The sanction reflects this cooperation."

Streak, 47, won 65 Test caps for Zimbabwe between December 1993 and September 2005 and appeared in 189 one-day internationals.

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