Brisbane, Australia: Mohammad Irfan used his height to full effect to take four wickets as Pakistan defended a low total against Zimbabwe to get its World Cup campaign back on track with a 20-run victory on Sunday.
The gamble to drop experienced batsman Younis Khan in favor of Rahat Ali to bolster the bowling attack paid off on the fast, bouncy wicket at the Gabba , after coming under question when Pakistan was restricted in 235-7 after winning the toss and batting. Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (73) and Wahab Riaz (54 not out) ensured a 200-plus total.
Zimbabwe was all out in the last over for 215 in reply.The 2.16-meter (7-foot-1) Irfan had Zimbabwe reeling at 22-2 in reply, and returned in his second spell to snuff out a dangerous partnership, finishing with a career-best 4-30. Riaz returned 4-45.
He had 2-8 in his opening five-over spell and took a wicket with the first ball of his second spell to end a promising 52-run third-wicket partnership when Hamilton Masakadza (29) misjudged the pace and skied an attempted drive high to Misbah at mid-off.
Brendan Taylor continued with Sean Williams (33) in a 54-run fourth-wicket partnership but when he was caught behind off Riaz moments after reaching 50, the total slipped to 128-4 and there was a sense of inevitableness about the result.
Pakistan was coming off big losses to India and the West Indies and the 1992 champions were vulnerable coming into the Gabba match, knowing that another loss could lead to the early exit from the tournament.
“Credit to Misbah, he was the glue of their innings. He created partnerships—partnerships we didn't have. That was the difference,” Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor said.
Zimbabwe had a setback in the field when skipper Elton Chigumbura went down in the 24th over of Pakistan's innings chasing a ball toward the boundary and had to leave the field with an apparent left leg injury. Officials said Chigumbura had a quadriceps injury but wanted to bat before having medical scans. He went in down the order, and remained unbeaten on 35 when the last wicket fell.