| Man-of-the-Match Abdul Razzaq in action Thursday. (AFP)
Sharjah: Abdul Razzaq’s power hitting propelled Pakistan to a total that proved too big for Zimbabwe who crashed to a 68-run defeat in the opening match of the four-nation one-day tournament here on Thursday.
Razzaq, who made an unbeaten 76 from 53 balls, blasted as many as six sixes in the last two overs to propel Pakistan to a handsome 278 for seven in 50 overs after the team had struggled for most of the innings.
Razzaq, one of the seven survivors from the World Cup squad, hit a total of seven sixes and two fours, creaming 47 runs from the last two overs after Pakistan skipper Rashid Latif elected to bat in the day-night game.
Zimbabwe, handicapped with the retirement of their most prolific batsman Andy Flower, never really threatened the Pakistani score and folded up at 210 in 44.1 overs.
Douglas Marillier led the Zimbabwe innings with a fine knock of 59 but no other batsman could carry on. For the new-look Pakistan team, debutants Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul took two wickets each. Razzaq also contributed with the ball taking two wickets.
The Pakistan team, which saw a complete overhaul following its first-round exit in the World Cup, found the going tough in the morning with the new opening pair of Taufeeq Umar (16) and Hafeez (12) unable to find their rhythm. Both were dismissed by Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak. In between, Naved Latif (3) was sent back by Andy Blignaut and Pakistan were reduced to 50 for three in the 15th over.
The dependable Yousuf Youhana (17) and Shoaib Malik (13) were also dismissed cheaply leaving Pakistan in a very sorry state at 101 for five in the 25th over.
Younis Khan, who made a solid 67, then joined his skipper in the rebuilding act and put on 59 runs for the sixth wicket. Latif was run out for 34 in the 35th over but Younis had another fruitful partnership with Razzaq, the duo adding 44 runs for the seventh wicket.
However, when Younis left the crease in the 45th over, it was not exactly a rosy scenario for Pakistan at 203 for seven. Razzaq took 18 runs from the 47th over but it was really the last two overs that made all the difference.
Razzaq blasted three consecutive sixes off Sean Ervine in the 49th over and then three more in the final over off Douglas Hondo to ensure a very good total for Pakistan.
The target proved quite stiff for the Zimbabweans right from the start and the cheap dismissals of Craig Wishart (8), Travis Friend (9) and Grant Flower (13) made things all the more difficult for them.
Marillier, who faced 73 balls and hit eight fours, kept Zimbabwe in the hunt for some time but the resistance was gone once he was out as the fourth wicket in the 24th over.
The rest of the batsman just could not cope with the increasing run rate required and wickets tumbled at regular intervals for Zimbabwe. Dion Ebrahim (31), Sean Ervine (30) and Andy Blignaut (24) flourished for brief periods but it was clearly a case of too late and too little for their team.
Vaas out of opener
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s World Cup hero Chaminda Vaas was ruled out of the team’s opening match against Pakistan in the four-nation tournament here after the seamer injured his ankle during practice on Thursday. (PTI)