Pakistan's Shoaib Malik becomes third batsman in T20I history to register 2000 runs

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Malik attained the feat in the T20I tri-series opener against Zimbabwe.

Shoaib Malik wrote himself into history books during the T20I tri-series opener between Zimbabwe and Pakistan at Harare on Sunday.

The Pakistan veteran became only the third batsman in history to register 2, 000 runs in the T20I format and the first from his country. The New Zealand duo of Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill are the only previous batsmen to have attained the feat.

Malik reached the landmark during his unbeaten cameo of 37 runs which came off just 24 deliveries in Pakistan’s victory. The batsman has been in great form in the format for some time now and he was on song once again at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

The right-hander struck one six and two boundaries during his 24-ball stay at the crease as he and Asif Ali provided some much needed lusty blows towards the death overs for Pakistan.

The duo collected 61 runs from the last five overs as Pakistan posted a daunting total of 182-4 after being asked to bat first by Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakazda.

Malik’s 2,026 runs in T20I cricket have come from 99 matches at an average of 31.65 and a strike-rate of over 122. In his last 25 innings for Pakistan in the format, the 36-year-old has scored 771 runs at an average of over 70 and a strike-rate greater than 151.

His explosive hitting in the death overs has been a hallmark of Pakistan’s climb to the No1 ranking in the T20 format. His excellent form has coincided with Pakistan’s run of 11 victories in their last 12 matches coming into the tri-series.

Though he is ranked 30th in the latest ICC rankings for T20I batsman, it won’t be a surprise to see Malik make a huge jump when the rankings are next updated after his fine showing in the two preceding T20Is against Scotland.

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Asif Ali's late show and other takeaways from Pakistan's 74-run win over Zimbabwe in T20 tri-series opener

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Asif Ali provided some late fireworks to Pakistan's innings.

Pakistan romped to a thumping 74-run win over hosts Zimbabwe in the T20I tri-series opener at Harare on Sunday.

The visitors put on 182-4 on the board after batting first before their quality bowling attack bundled out the hosts for just 108 runs inside 18 overs.

Here, we look at the key talking points from Pakistan’s big win.

FAKHAR ZAMAN ENTERTAINS WITH SECOND T20 FIFTY

After losing Mohammad Hafeez early in the innings, Pakistan failed to really get a move on in the first 10 overs with Hussain Talat and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed too falling cheaply.

Thankfully for the visitors, Fakhar Zaman was in his elements despite others around his struggling for timing. The left-handed dasher was his usual attacking self as he sought to pounce on any width on offer by the Zimbabwe bowlers. Finding boundaries with regularity, Fakhar brought up his second T20I half-century off just 33 balls.

His attacking innings of 61 (40) included three boundaries and as many sixes.

Fakhar Zaman was in his elements.

Fakhar Zaman was in his elements.

ASIF ALI AND SHOAIB MALIK PROVIDE LATE FIREWORKS

Despite Fakhar’s attacking half-century, Pakistan had failed to really up the ante on a two-paced pitch. That was until Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali provided some late fireworks in the death overs. The two-right handers muscled the ball to all parts of the ground as 61 runs came in the final five overs.

Asif in particular looked extremely fluent in his unbeaten cameo of 41 runs which came off just 21 deliveries with the help of four massive sixes. His arrival at the crease allowed Pakistan to break the shackles completely as runs started to flow at a quick rate.

The experienced Malik was not too far behind with an unbeaten 24-ball 37 which included two boundaries and a six. The veteran also became only the third batsman overall and first man from Pakistan to complete 2,000 runs in T20I cricket.

PAKISTAN BOWLERS TOO GOOD FOR HOSTS

A chase of 183 on a two-paced wicket against a formidable Pakistan bowling attack was always going to be a daunting one for the hosts. That proved to be the case with Mohammad Nawaz and Hasan Ali doing a terrific job with the new ball during the powerplay.

The former struck in the very first over of Zimbabwe’s chase by trapping Chamu Chibhabha plumb in front of the wickets. The latter then got the big scalp of the Zimbabwe skipper after being struck for a huge six. Once Nawaz removed Solomon Mire in the 10th over, the battle was very much lost for Zimbabwe.

Ali, Nawaz, Usman Khan and Hafeez chipped in with two wickets each ultimately as Zimbabwe’s batsmen struggled to cope with the quality in Pakistan’s attack.

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Zimbabwe v Pakistan LIVE: Mohammad Hafeez's double-strike completes 74-run win for Pakistan in tri-series opener

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Zimbabwe and Pakistan lock horns in the tri-series opener.

Pakistan will kick off their tour of Zimbabwe with the T20I tri-series opener against the hosts at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday. Sarfraz Ahmed‘s men are currently the No1 ranked team in the format and come into the clash on the back of 11 wins in their last 12 outings.

Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza has won the toss at Harare and elected to bowl first. Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez opened the batting for Pakistan alongside Fakhar Zaman on his return to the Pakistan side. However, he lasted only eight balls before being caught by Masakadza off the bowling of Kyle Jarvis. The visitors lost their second wicket in the seventh over with Hussain Talat caught behind for 10.

After Sarfraz Ahmed fell cheaply, Fakhar registered his second T20 half-century before being dismissed for 61 runs. Since then, Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali have taken charge of the innings with some big blows in the death overs.

In reply, the hosts are in a spot of bother after losing four wickets for just 64 runs. Mohammad Nawaz has been the pick of Pakistan’s bowlers with two wickets in as many overs. Hasan Ali, Usman Khan and Hafeez chipped in with two wickets each as Zimbabwe were bowled out for just 108 runs, handing Pakistan a 74-run win.

Do not miss any of the action from the T20I tri-series opener by following the live ball-by-ball updates below.

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