LAHORE - Bilawal Bhatti’s heroics handed Pakistan second Twenty20 international and series victory as the hosts defeated Zimbabwe by two wickets in a tense game played here at the pack to capacity Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing another respectable total of 176 set by Zimbabwe for triumph, Pakistan’s innings saw momentum swing like a pendulum. The start was not as good as it was in the first T20 when openers Mukhtar Ahmed and Ahmed Shahzad had provided strong 142-run first wicket stand. This time, Mukhtar remained successful with bat once again as he smashed 40-ball 62 with the help of six boundaries and one six which helped Pakistan get on course. However, other batsmen kept on losing wickets at regular intervals which continued to dent their progress. Once again, middle order failed to deliver which put pressure on the batsmen to come. But it was Umar Akmal who controlled his nerve and contributed significant 30 runs hitting one four and two sixes.

When Umar Akmal hit Chris Mpofu for a six in the 17th over, Pakistan looked well on course at 152 for five, however, Mpofu hit back by getting him out leg-before. In the next over, Anwar Ali was bowled by Sean Williams, which made the fans worried and made the match thrilling. Zimbabwe took advantage of the situation and managed to keep the pressure. The move paid dividend as next batsman M Rizwan was dismissed by Mpofu. After Rizwan, all the responsibility was on Bhatti and Imad Wasim, as the fans were expecting high from these two batsmen and chanting slogans ‘we want win’, ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘come on Pakistan’.

When Pakistan needed 12 runs in the last over, Bilawal Bhatti smashed Brian Vitori for a six over long-on. Vitori then bowled a dot ball but Bhatti got a brace on next and smashed the fourth ball for a four through cover to seal the game. The crowd celebrated the victory with great zeal and zest and kept on raising slogans in favour of Bhatti. It was in fact a superb batting display by Bhatti under pressure. He started off the last over with a lovely six and ended the match in great style by playing a cracking drive through extra cover to provide Pakistan a sparkling second T20 as well as series win.

Earlier, Sean Williams struck his maiden fifty to help Zimbabwe set another decent title of 175-3 for Pakistan to register victory in the second Twenty20 international. Left-hander William struck seven fours and one six in his 32-ball unbeaten 58 after Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to bat first. Vusi Sibanda also made a career best 49 off 46 balls while skipper Elton Chigumbura hit three successive sixes in his 21 off only 9 balls and Hamilton Masakadza contributed significant 39 in his team’s reasonable total. Pakistan bowlers didn’t impress the spectators and only veterans Shoaib Malik, M Sami and Shahid Afridi managed to get a wicket apiece. Zimbabwe replaced Chamu Chibhabha and Prosper Utseya with Tinashe Panyangara and Richmond Mutumbami. The Twenty20s will be followed by three one-day internationals on May 26, 29 and 31. Pakistan, who won the first T20I by five wickets, made three changes to their side as Imad Wasim, the all-rounder, and Nauman Anwar, the 19-year old opener, were handed international debuts and M Rizwan, the wicketkeeper, came in. M Hafeez, Wahab Riaz and Sarfraz Ahmed were left out.

Mukhtar Ahmed was once again declared man of the match and also man of the series while the best bowler of the match award went to Christopher Mpofu, most sixes of the match to Sean Williams, most colorful innings to Bilawal Bhatti and most boundaries award went to Sean Williams.

Speaking at the prize distribution ceremony, man of the match Mukhtar Ahmed said: “It wasn’t a simple game. We were under pressure. I have this style that it doesn’t feel I am under pressure but I was feeling it. You have to go after every ball with a big target on the board.”

Pakistan T20 captain Shahid Afridi said: “I am happy the matches went well. I am also proud of the crowd that came in and supported us. The T20s are mostly like this as you cannot guess who will win. We have good talent coming and we just need to polish them a little. We want to take a good team to the World T20. We didn’t bowl well in two overs and that cost us. Mukhtar, once again, played really well. Most importantly, I believed in Bhatti and as a captain you need to believe in your players. The boys delivered as I expected from them.”

Scoreboard

ZIMBABWE:

V Sibanda c Anwar b Afridi    49

H Masakadza c Anwar b Malik    39

S Williams not out    58

E Chigumbura c Shehzad b Sami    21

C Coventry not out    2

EXTRAS: (lb2, w2, nb2)    6

TOTAL: (3 wkts; 20 overs)    175

FOW: 1-68, 2-136, 3-168

BOWLING: Anwar Ali 3-0-31-0, M Sami 4-0-38-1, Bilawal Bhatti 3-0-31-0, Imad Wasim 2-0-14-0, Shahid Afridi 4-0-36-1, Shoaib Malik 4-0-23-1

PAKISTAN:

Mukhtar Ahmed c Sibanda b Raza    62

Ahmed Shehzad c Sibanda b Vitori    18

Nauman Anwer c Sibanda b Utseya    18

Shoaib Malik run out    7

Umar Akmal lbw b Mpofu    30

Shahid Afridi c Raza b Williams    7

M Rizwan c Raza b Mpofu    6

Anwer Ali b Williams    2

Imad Wasim not out    4

Bilawal Bhatti not out    13

EXTRAS: (b2, lb4, w3)    9

TOTAL: (8 wkts; 19.4 overs)    176

FOW: 1-44, 2-81, 3-95, 4-117, 5-130, 6-152, 7-155, 8-161

BOWLING: Mpofu 4-0-25-2, Vitori 3.4-0-36-1, Williams 4-0-32-2, Utsyea 4-0-31-1 (1w), Cremer 2-0-27-0, Raza 2-0-19-1

TOSS: Zimbabwe

UMPIRES: Ahmed Shahab and Ahsan Raza

TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza

MATCH REFEREE: Azhar Khan