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Pakistan wrap up series as third ODI was a no result

LAHORE - May 31, 2015: The third and final one-day International between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was abandoned due to heavy downpour here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.

With that Pakistan’s chances of whitewash also gradually slipped away but they won the series after having won the previous two matches of the revival series played under tight security.

At around 8:54 pm when Zimbabwe was at 62 in eight overs, heavy dust storm put off one of the floodlight towers which brought the match to a standstill. There was poor visibility due to the dust storm that wasted 50 minutes. With that time lapse, the Duckworth Lewis method came into force and Zimbabwe was give a revised target of 281 in 46 overs. Pakistan earlier posted 296 for nine with the help of half centuries from Mohammad Hafeez (80) and debutant Babar Azam (54) while Anwar Ali (38) and Wahab Riaz (10 ball 13) delighted the crowd with their big hitting.

During the final match, the crowd not only tolerated hot conditions, heavy security, long walk to the stadium but also dust storm and rain later, just to watch the Pakistan team play. The dust storm was so strong that several of the signboards of sponsors fixed in the stadium were uprooted but brought no harm to anyone. Though the match was stopped, the fans enjoyed the weather to the fullest, dancing on drum beats.

With revised target, the game resumed and one over was bowled. Zimbabwe reached 68 in nine overs when the heaven opened and covers were brought on the wicket. Later at 10:55 pm, the game was called off and the match was abandoned.

Pakistan bowlers were unable to pressurise the visitors who got their 50 runs in just 6.1 overs and when the eighth over concluded the match was suspended due to strong dusty winds that made the visibility very poor.

Zimbabwe needed some early encouragement, and their openers Chamunorwa Chibhabha (39) and Vusimuzi Sibanda (28) provided it by punishing Pakistan attack.

The perfect situation for clean sweep provided by Pakistan’s openers and later order batsmen was instead let loose by the bowlers and later rain played the spoiler’s role.

Earlier, former Captain Mohammad Hafeez and debutant batsman Babar Azam hit half centuries as Pakistan gave a stiff target to Zimbabwe in the third and final match of the revival series here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.

Hafeez (who scored 80 runs) gave a century-plus stand with Captain Azhar Ali which was later stabilised by Babar. The 20 years old batsman marked his entry into the cricket world with a brilliant 54 in Pakistan’s 296 runs for nine wickets innings. After Babar, Anwal Ali, towards the end of the match, smacked entertaining 38 in 23 balls with the help of two fours and two sixes while Junaid Khan contributed six runs including a four in two balls to close Pakistan’s batting. Before that Wahab Riaz hit a six and a four to get 13 runs in 10 balls, in his useful addition of runs.

Allrounder Sikandar Raza Butt, century-maker of Zimbabwe’s previous match, did the main damage with the ball this time in Pakistan’s batting line-up by taking three vital middle order wickets. Christopher Mpofu had two while three Pakistan batsmen were run out including Shoaib Malik.

Pakistan middle order wasted the ideal scenario provided by Azhar and Hafeez with their 115 runs opening partnership. Azhar missed his half century in a brambly run out at 49. Azhar responded to Hafeez’s call but was caught short by an accurate throw from Graeme Cremer. The two batsmen took 20 overs to stay together, in which Azhar hit four fours and a six.

Pakistan looked for some encouraging batting from Hafeez and Asad Shafiq. But the former captain after an addition of 19 runs in the total at 134, was trapped leg before wicket by Sikandar Raza. Hafeez in his run-a-ball 80, got his 25th half century. After Hafeez, Pakistan lost its three key wickets of Asad, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed within a span of seven overs that yielded just 41. Asad made 16 and Sarfraz 25 and both were the victims of Butt.

There things for team green landed in the laps of debutant Babar and Hammad Azam but the latter was clean bowled by Cremer. Apart from the opening stand, Pakistan’s approach remained lethargic as compared to the previous two matches. They got their 100 in 19th over, 150 in 29th, 200 in the 39th and 250 in 45.5 overs.

Coming in at number four position Babar began his ODI career with a half century, lifting the team total from 151 for three to 242 for six in the 45th over. At the other end Anwar Ali supported him with cautious batting. Azam reached his fifty in 54 balls hitting four fours before being bowled by Christopher Mpofu.

Earlier, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali won the third consecutive toss and chose to bat first in the third ODI. The hosts had already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Pakistan brought in debutant twenty-year-old batsman Babar Azam in place of Haris Sohail while Junaid Khan replaced seamer Mohammad Sami, who failed to take a wicket in the two previous matches.

Zimbabwe also made two changes picking Roy Kaia, 23-year-old offspinning allrounder. Two Zimbabwe seamers, Tawande Mupariwa and Brian Vitori, exited the XI, with right-arm seamer Chris Mpofu coming in. Mupariwa was ruled out due to back pain while Vitori missed the game due to a groin niggle. The changes meant that all Zimbabwe squad members were used in the series.