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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David Warner insists he is still good friends with Steve Smith

David Cooper 30/06/2018
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Back playing cricket: David Warner

David Warner insists he and Steve Smith remain firm friends despite the ball-tampering controversy that saw both men handed 12-month bans by Cricket Australia.

Warner was found to be the orchestrator of a plot, also involving Smith and Cameron Bancroft, to change the condition of the ball during the third of four Tests against South Africa in March.

The international and domestic suspensions do not apply to competitions outside Australia and Warner made his competitive comeback 24 hours after former Australia captain Smith in the inaugural Global T20 Canada.

The pair are stopping at the same hotel in Toronto and Warner, who was deputy to Smith before the Cape Town saga, moved to play down any speculation of a rift in their relationship.

Speaking at a press conference broadcast on the Global T20 Canada official website, the big-hitting batsman said: “Me and Steve, we’re good mates.

“We hadn’t really been able to catch up because he’s been away, Cameron’s been in Perth and I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, I’ve got family at home, so it’s been hard.

“But this has been good, we’ve caught up and had numerous chats and I’m sure we’ll hang out plenty more.”

Still good buddies

Still good buddies

Warner has been cast as the scapegoat after what happened three months ago, but he added: “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

“Critics will be critics but, at the end of the day, that’s why they’re behind their keyboards. They do what they do and we move forward and just try to ignore that.”

While Smith marked his return to action with a half-century, Warner lasted just two balls as he was bowled by Sri Lanka veteran Lasith Malinga for one while representing the Winnipeg Hawks, who nevertheless defeated the Montreal Tigers by 46 runs at the Maple Leaf North-West Ground.

Smith described how being mentally drained following a successful Ashes campaign led to him “making horrible decisions” afterwards.

Warner concurred as he added: “In the bubble that we’ve been in for the last six or seven years, you need time out.

“This 12 months is going to be a good reflection upon myself as a person and a character, as a dad and a family man. Being at home for the last 12 weeks was great for me, it was great for my mind.

“There were a lot of mental scars after the Ashes and that probably saw my form and maybe Steve as well in that one-day series against England… it takes a lot out of you.

“Moving on to South Africa and what happened, it was really, really tough. We’re responsible for that and we’re moving on.

“You can’t sit at home and dwell on what’s happened in the past. You’ve got to move forward and I felt that this was a great opportunity to get back out there and just play cricket and be happy.”

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