HARARE: Ahmed Shehzad hit the highest international Twenty20 score by a Pakistani to lead his country to a second win in two days over Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Shehzad smashed 98 to follow on from his 70 on Friday which had set Pakistan up for a 25-run victory in the first game of the tour.
On Saturday, he followed that up with 98 not out as the tourists clinched a 19-run win and 2-0 series sweep.
The right-hander struck six sixes en route to the highest score by a Pakistani batsman in the Twenty20 format, but missed an opportunity to reach three figures when he could only manage a single from the final ball of the innings.
After Pakistan finished on 179 for one, with skipper Mohammad Hafeez unbeaten on 54 from 40 balls, Zimbabwe mustered 160 for six in reply.
Although Pakistan made a circumspect start after being put in to bat, scoring 37 for one in the opening six overs as Nasir Jamshed was dismissed for 23, Shehzad opened up beautifully from the ninth over and regularly found the boundary.
At the other end Hafeez rotated the strike effectively as the pair built an unbroken 143-run stand, and then went to his half-century with a huge six over midwicket off Shingirai Masakadza.
“It’s important to be consistent I think so I’ve been trying very hard to achieve that and it’s paid off,” Shehzad said.
“In the first six overs I didn’t get much strike and I could easily have had a panic attack, but as soon as the captain came in that changed.”
In reply, Zimbabwe raced to 44 without loss in the first five overs, but the introduction of the spinners saw the home side strangled as the next five overs yielded just 21 runs for the loss of Vusi Sibanda and captain Brendan Taylor.
Both batsmen fell to Hafeez, who then had Hamilton Masakadza caught in the deep for 41 to finish with figures of 3 for 30.
Once Zulfiqar Babar had removed both Sean Williams and Timycen Maruma in the following over, Zimbabwe’s chase was dead in the water as they were left needing 71 from the final five overs.
Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller hit three sixes to narrow the margin of defeat, but as in the first match, Zimbabwe were unable to threaten the Pakistani total.
“They got about 20 too many as our bowlers missed their mark a few too many times,” said Taylor.
“They just outplayed us and they showed why they’re a world-class team.”
The two sides begin a three-match one-day series at the same venue on Tuesday.