Zimbabwe produced one of the all-time World Cup upsets with a brilliant performance in Perth to beat Pakistan by one run in a match that went down to the very last delivery.
Pakistan needed 11 to win off the final over of a pulsating evening, and that equation came down to three from three with the well-set Mohammad Nawaz at the crease. But 25-year-old Brad Evans produced three stunning deliveries right when it mattered. First, he fizzed through a pacy bouncer that Nawaz failed to connect with. And a miscue off the penultimate ball had Nawaz caught at mid-off by captain Craig Ervine, a wicket that saw both batters sink to their knees, with heartbreak again for Nawaz in the second successive match.
Shaheen Shah Afridi punted the final ball down the ground, tearing back in a desperate attempt for a second run to tie the match. Wicket-keeper Regis Chakabva fumbled the throw at first, but recovered to whip off the bails with Afridi still short of his ground, sparking jubilant scenes among the Zimbabwe players and supporters.
Pakistan had made a measured start to the chase of 131 to win, but two huge Powerplay wickets gave Zimbabwe a sniff as the big-name opening pair both went cheaply.
Babar Azam was squared up by a lovely piece of bowling from Brad Evans to be sent back for just four runs off nine balls. And the outstanding Blessing Muzarabani cleaned up Mohammad Rizwan via an inside edge for 14 (16).
After Iftikhar Ahmed was also removed cheaply, Pakistan seemingly got the match under control with a solid partnership btween Shan Masood and Shadab Khan to reach 88/3 with six and a half overs still remaining.
But the inspired Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikandar Raza took two wickets in two balls to remove Shadab and Haider Ali, before having Masood stumped in his very next over to give Zimbabwe hope and set up a big finish.
After opting to bat first, Zimbabwe got off to a flier as a daring Wessley Madhevere and skipper Craig Ervine played some eye-catching shots inside the first two overs. With five boundaries inside the first three overs, Zimbabwe had a fabulous start, racing away at 10 runs per over.
Some of that early momentum toned down when Ervine was sent back by Haris Rauf and his partner got trapped in front by Wasim in the following over. Shadab Khan prized out Milton Shumba before Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza went about the resurrection work.
Things turned south pretty quickly when Shadab sent back Williams and Chakabva off successive deliveries, the latter dismissed off a spectacular grab at first slip by Babar Azam.
Shadab completed a brilliant spell of 4-0-23-3 but there was more in store for Zimbabwe from the other end. In the very next over after losing two wickets off back-to-back balls to Shadab, Zimbabwe lost a further two as Mohammad Wasim dismissed Raza and Luke Jongwe off successive balls.
95/3, and what appeared to be a solid start, quickly turned into 95/7 as Pakistan’s bowlers went on a rampage in Perth. Eventually, they put up 130/8 on board with some help from Brad Evans down the order.
It seemed unlikely to be enough, but a superb bowling display from Zimbabwe ensured otherwise.
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