BRISBANE, Australia: Captain Misbah-ul-Haq struck a defiant 73 as Zimbabwe held Pakistan to 235 for seven in their crucial World Cup Pool B match at the Gabba in Brisbane on Sunday.
Misbah strode to the crease with his side in desperate trouble at 4-2 at the end of the fourth over and was out 121 balls later in the 47th with Pakistan 202-7.
Wahab Riaz struck a career-best 54 from 46 balls at the end of the innings to lift Pakistan, who struggled throughout their 50 overs against a spirited Zimbabwe attack.
Pakistan have been in terrible form during the World Cup, suffering big losses in their opening games against India and the West Indies.
They began just as poorly on Sunday, losing openers Nasir Jamshed (1) and Ahmad Shahzad (0) inside the first four overs to some superb seam bowling from Tendai Chatara.
Haris Sohail (27) and Misbah steadied the ship, but they crawled along at a snail’s pace, taking 18.4 overs to reach 50 runs.
Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura brought on part-time spinner Sikandar Raza to use up some overs, and the change paid off immediately as a disbelieving Haris pulled a long hop straight to Sean Williams at midwicket.
Pakistan promoted Umar Akmal ahead of Sohaib Maqsood and the wicketkeeper set about lifting the run rate, but after scoring 33 from 42 balls he was deceived by a straight ball from the left-arm spin of Williams and was bowled.
Williams struck again two balls later when he got one to turn sharply past Shahid Afridi’s outside edge and take off stump to leave Pakistan 127-5 after 34 overs.
It was a miserable way for Afridi to celebrate his 35th birthday.
Craig Ervine dropped the dangerous Maqsood (21) on eight, but the missed chance didn’t prove too costly, with Tawanda Mupawira taking a simple catch off his own bowling to leave the Pakistanis struggling on 155-6.
Riaz came to the crease and gave solid support to Misbah, but when his skipper departed the 29-year-old took over, smashing six fours and a six as Zimbabwe’s pace attack faltered towards the end.
Zimbabwe, with a win and two defeats so far, will begin their run chase under lights, but will be unsure whether Chigumbura will be able to bat after he tore the quadriceps in his left leg when chasing a ball to the boundary.