Brisbane — Embattled Pakistan finally opened their account in the cricket World Cup as they laboured to a narrow 20-run win over a spirited Zimbabwe in a Pool B match here today.
Opting to bat, Pakistan managed 235 for seven in their allotted 50 overs, before bowling out the African nation for 215 in 49.4 overs at the Gabba, keeping their slim hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinals alive. Zimbabwe and Pakistan now occupy the fifth and sixth positions, respectively, in the standings.
Misbah-ul-Haq top-scored for Pakistan with a patient 121-ball 73 while seamer Wahab Riaz smashed a quick-fire 54 off 46 balls to prop up Pakistan towards the end.
With the ball, Mohammad Irfan was the pick of Pakistan bowlers with figures of four for 30, and Riaz complemented the lanky bowler well as he returned figures of four for 45 to complete an all-round performance.
Chasing what looked like a gettable total against a Pakistani attack that struggled to contain the opposition batsmen in the tournament so far, Zimbabwe were off to a disastrous start losing both their openers with just 22 runs on the board.
Hamilton Masakadza (29) and Brendan Taylor (50) stabilised the innings with a 52-run partnership for the third wicket, before the former was snared by Irfan.
Taylor then added 54 runs for the fourth wicket with Sean Williams (33), but the Zimbabwe wicketkeeper got out at the wrong time to hand over the advantage to Pakistan.
Riaz picked up the wicket of Taylor, and then followed it up with two more scalps to leave the Africans reeling at 168 for eight in the 40th over.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura tried to make a match of it, but his 35 off as many balls was not enough to take his team through.
Pakistan have two points following a win and two defeats, same as Zimbabwe, but the minnows are a place above the Asians owing to better net run-rate.
Misbah and his men had found themselves on the receiving end of intense criticism after the mauling they received from India and West Indies in the first two matches.