LAHORE (Reuters): Pakistan edged Zimbabwe by two wickets in the second and final Twenty20 International on Sunday to clinch the series 2-0 at a boisterous Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Needing 12 runs of the last over, number 10 batsman Bilawal Bhatti clobbered a six, ran for two and hit a four to seal a victory with two balls to spare and clinch the series that marked international cricket’s return to the country.
Zimbabwe had earlier posted a strong 175-3 after Vusi Sibanda (49) and Hamilton Masakadza (39) gave them a strong start and Sean Williams scored an unbeaten 58 off 32 balls.
Mukhtar Ahmed topscored for Pakistan with 62, while Umar Akmal contributed 30 but it was Bhatti’s unbeaten 13 off five balls which hauled Pakistan over the line.
“What gives me maximum joy is that both the matches went without any issues and the Zimbabwe team also enjoyed a lot,” Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said at the presentation ceremony.
“I also want to thank the crowd, who once again demonstrated how keen they are to witness (international) cricket here.”
Six years after an attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore left six Pakistani policemen and a van driver dead, Zimbabwe became the first test-playing nation to tour the country for a limited overs series.
Opting to bat first, the visitors got off to a strong start with Sibanda and Masakadza adding 68 runs before being separated in the ninth over.
Masakadza hit Bhatti for three successive fours before Shoaib Malik dismissed him.
Williams needed only 26 balls to bring up his fifty and watched from the other end as Elton Chigumbura (21) hit Mohammad Sami for three consecutive sixes.
Pakistan’s chase got off to a flying start with Mukhtar Ahmed hitting Brian Vitori for three boundaries in the same over.
The batsman got a reprieve in the next over when Williams dropped him at backward point off Chris Mpofu but Vitori dismissed Ahmed Shehzad to end the 44-run opening stand.
Pakistan lost two more wickets before reaching the 100-mark in the 12th over but Mukhtar Ahmed could not be denied his back-to-back fifty.
Pakistan kept losing wickets before Bhatti’s cameo sealed the match in their favour.