Pakistan 176 for 8 (Mukhtar 62, Akmal 30, Mpofu 2-25) beat Zimbabwe 175 for 3 (Williams 58*, Sibanda 49) by two wickets
PAKISTAN beat Zimbabwe by two wickets with two balls to spare, in another last-over finish, to clinch the T20 series 2-0 and, like Friday, the occasion got bigger than the game.
The unheralded batting talent of Bilawal Bhatti came to the fore with Pakistan needing 12 off the final over. He first smote Brian Vitori for a straight six and, after picking up two, carved the bowler through the covers for the winning runs.
Zimbabwe will feel hard done by with the result as they fought tooth and nail with patches of excellent batting and fielding.
However, the home side edged the game at the right moments – like the last two overs of the Zimbabwe innings or Shoaib Malik’s tight four overs which kept Zimbabwe’s score down to 175 for 3.
Mukhtar Ahmed’s second successive fifty was also important, while the Lahore crowd kept Pakistan, in the game with their noise.
Chasing 176, Pakistan lost their first wicket in the fifth over when Ahmed Shehzad chopped the ball to mid-off for Vusi Sibanda’s first of three catches.
Shehzad and Mukhtar Ahmed had added 44 runs, but it was nothing like their dominating 142-run stand in the previous game.
Mukhtar, however, continued to bat confidently, finding boundaries regularly even as debutant Nauman Anwar and Shoaib Malik fell to a catch at long-on and a run-out, respectively.
Mukhtar hit boundaries through point, third-man and fine-leg in the second over before an onslaught against Graeme Cremer in the eighth over, in which the legspinner conceded 19 runs.
He reached 50 off 33 balls but in the 14th over, holed out to long-on off Sikandar Raza’s bowling, with Pakistan needing a further 59 runs off 39 balls.
Shahid Afridi entered with usual fanfare but lasted just three balls before skying Williams for a catch near mid-off. Raza fumbled for a moment but did not let go of the chance.
Zimbabwe kept picking up wickets, even as Pakistan batsmen kept themselves within touching distance of the required run-rate.
Sean Williams and Vusi Sibanda added 68 runs for the second wicket