Cheema steals the show in whitewash

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Aizaz Cheema continued his promising rise through the Pakistani ranks with a career-best haul as the tourists resigned Zimbabwe to a 28-run defeat and three-nil series loss in Wednesday's final ODI in Harare.

Aizaz Cheema continued his promising rise through the Pakistani ranks with a career-best haul as the tourists resigned Zimbabwe to a 28-run defeat and three-nil series loss in Wednesday's final ODI in Harare.

Eight wickets in the one-off Test and eight more in the three one-dayers, the right-armer bagged figures of four for 43 to show that the nation that their fast-bowling stocks are deeper than Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Tanvir Ahmed.

With the first-choice seamers rested for the entire tour and Junaid Khan benched for the final match, Cheema impressed once again, while fellow seamers Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan proved iffy.

Stepping up at every turn, the 32-year-old struck with the key wicket of Brendan Taylor and then put paid to the Zimbabwean lower order's hopes of a late dash. Striving hard in conditions void of seam nor swing, Cheema relied on a metronomic line and length through his zippy action for his Man-of-the-Match effort.

The home side's pursuit of an achievable 271-run target carried through a solid start on the back of half-centuries from Vusi Sibanda and Justice Chibhabha, whose 110-run alliance inside 26 overs was eventually ended by the introduction of the spinners.

Whereas debutant leg-spinner Yasir Shah (two for 51) took to ODI cricket in impressive fashion, removing Sibanda for 59 and later Tatenda Taibu, Shoaib Malik made up for his lack of contribution with the bat by getting ride of Chibhabha for 62.

While Taylor fell in single figures, Hamilton Masakadza and Taibu looked to continue the hard work put in by the openers, but their departures for 21 and 27 respectively soon had the hosts' 110 without loss reduced to 179 for five.

There was no recovering.

The asking rate was always climbing and Elton Chigumbura, Malcolm Waller and Prosper Utseya – bar a couple of belated boundaries – hardly stood a chance against a disciplined Pakistani attack. They swung for the fence regardless, but at 225 for eight the writing was very much on the wall for the tail-enders to bow to in an final score of 242 for nine.

Earlier Zimbabwe were left to rue three dropped catches as half-centuries from Man of the Series Younis Khan and his sidekick, Asad Shafiq, carried Pakistan to a formidable total of 270 for five.

Khan was the main benefactor of the hosts' shoddy day in the field, with the former captain dropped on 41 and 55 by Masakadza and Chigumbura respectively en route to 81.

Shafiq was the other half-centurion, with his 51 providing Khan was fine support.

The visitors had looked on course for a 300-plus score but the fall of Malik and Younis in quick succession and the home attack's collective ability to stifle the batting Powerplay saw the opposition cut short by 30-odd runs of a score they would've backed themselves to reach on the back of the twin half-tons.

Misbah-ul-Haq and Adnan Akmal dug deep in the wake of the brace, with the captain and wicketkeeper batsman finishing on on 29 not out and 24 not out respectively.

Seamer Chigumbura proved the pick of the bowlers with figures of two for 36, while new-ball pair Brian Vitori and Kyle Jarvis copped plenty of expensive for a mere wicket apiece. Spinner Ray Price, meanwhile, weighed in with the scalp of Shafiq.

The teams will now meet for two T20Is, the first of which gets underway at the same venue on Friday.

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