Zimbabwe beat Pakistan for first time in 15 years

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Opener Hamilton Masakadaza, captain Brendan Taylor and the enterprising Sean Williams stood at the fore of Zimbabwe's first ODI victory over Pakistan in almost 15 years on Tuesday.

Opener Hamilton Masakadaza, captain Brendan Taylor and the enterprising Sean Williams stood at the fore of Zimbabwe's first ODI victory over Pakistan in almost 15 years on Tuesday's.

Mazakadza's patient 85, Taylor's authoritative 43 not out and Williams' unbeaten 39 ensured a seven-wicket triumph – and vital, early lead in the three-match affair – in front of a grateful Harare Sports Club crowd.

Zimbabwe hadn't enjoyed such a momentous result since November 1998 in Sheikhupura, where three key breakthroughs from seamer Heath Streak and all-rounder Neil Johnson's standalone century brought a surprising six-wicket win over Aamer Sohail's men.

This week, however, saw a welcome turnaround for a team otherwise plighted by awkward salary negotiations and the recent retirements of spinner Ray Price and fast bowler Kyle Jarvis.

Visiting captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bat first on a pitch initially characterised by moisture and lateral movement was peculiar. Misbah, though, largely vindicated his choice by scoring an unbeaten 83 in a final total of 244 for seven. The talented Mohammad Hafeez, meanwhile, weighed in with a complementary 70.

The hosts deployed all of eight bowlers, with constant changes to the attack consistently disturbing the opposition batsmen's collective quest for rhythm. Seamers Brian Vitori and Tendai Chatara were the pick of the lot, securing figures of two for 42 and two for 32 respectively.

Zimbabwe's reply enjoyed a very promising start, as Masakadaza and fellow half-centurion Vusi Sibanda added 107 for the first wicket. The introduction of spin trio Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal, though, soon pushed Pakistan back into the contest.

Ajmal, true to form, delivered a couple of telling blows by removing Sibanda for 54 and Masakadza 15 shy of a fourth career century. The hopeful Timycen Maruma didn't last long, leaving Taylor and Williams to the pressurised closing overs.

The duo obliged, entirely, gunning through 45 runs inside six overs – subsequently sealing a rare success over a Pakistan unit six positions superior in the International Cricket Council rankings.

The result might have read entirely differently, though, had Taylor not been dropped on 37 and Williams bowled on seven. Indeed, the left-hander chopped a sharp delivery from left-armer Junaid Khan onto the leg stump – but the bails astonishingly remained intact.

Masakadza was named Man of the Match for a vigil that spanned 138 minutes and 104 balls, featuring nine boundaries and a solitary six. The second ODI will get underway at the same venue on Thursday.

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