Mohammad Rizwan punished Zimbabwe for an early dropped catch as Pakistan claimed a hard-fought 11-run victory in the Twenty20 series opener on Wednesday.
Fresh from a 3-1 win in South Africa, Pakistan relied on Rizwan's unbeaten 82 to steer them to a competitive total of 149-7 after being put into bat at Harare Sports Club.
The wicketkeeper-batsman hit 10 fours and a solitary six in his outstanding 61-ball knock; the next highest score in the innings came from debutant Danish Aziz, who made 15 before becoming one of two wickets to fall to Luke Jongwe.
Zimbabwe did not help themselves with a number of missed opportunities in the field, including Tinashe Kamunhukamwe at mid-on failing to grasp an opportunity presented by Rizwan when he had just 13 to his name.
The home team still looked in a promising position in reply when they reached 77-2 in the 11th over, despite two early strikes from Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain.
Kamunhukamwe had batted well to reach 29 but his departure, stumped having charged down the track to off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, signalled a collapse. Craig Ervine fell in the next over for a top score of 34 as Zimbabwe slipped to 95-6.
Usman Qadir did much of the damage as he claimed 3-29 and, despite some late boundaries from Jongwe (30 not out from 23 balls), Zimbabwe finished up on 138-7.
The second T20 takes place at the same venue on Friday, with the final game in the series scheduled for Sunday.
Rizwan in the runs again
Opener Rizwan registered his third half-century in five T20 games – his other two outings in that stretch saw him dismissed without scoring in the four-match series against the Proteas. Zimbabwe were left to rue their failure to dismiss him cheaply, particularly as he helped plunder 20 runs from the final over.
Zimbabwe left in a spin
Qadir – the son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul – sparked a middle-order collapse by Zimbabwe that shifted the game in Pakistan's favour. He has now taken 11 wickets at an average of 8.09 against them in four appearances in the shortest format, as well as owning a miserly economy rate of 5.93 runs per over.