CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[PruHowzzat Contest, World Cup - England 1999]
7th Super Six Match: Pakistan v Zimbabwe, Match Analysis
Kris Srikkanth - 11 June 1999

CricInfo report

The outcome of this match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was watched keenly by Indian fans because it would decide whether India has a chance to make it to the semi-finals or not.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat, with Anwar and Wasti getting off to a roaring start. Both these openers looked in great form and Wasti was the first to launch into the aggressive mode with a couple of fours and a six. But then he just got carried away in his stroke play and got out to an excellent catch by Huckle. Ijaz was unlucky to be run out to a wrong call, but then Anwar was the man in form and it was very important that he stay there in the crease for Pakistan.

Inzy stepping out to cut Huckle moved far across and was stumped by Flower, who managed to uproot the stump when in his first attempt he had dislodged the bails with his pads. By this time Anwar had reached his century, and what a performance from him. The Zimbabweans will curse their luck for dropping a simple catch in slips of him early in the innings. Akram promoted himself up the order to hit a few blows. Anwar who tends to get over-confident in his mannerism after his centuries was caught behind when the score was 194. He is capable of playing long innings and this is what he should be doing, settle himself and then guard one side of the pitch.

Akram and Moin were not able to force the pace and Afridi playing in the No.6 position did remarkably well. He has been a total non-performer in the opener slot and this decision to play him in the middle order worked out, since the ball is a little old and it does not seam the way it does in the initial overs. Afridi and Saqlain held on and helped Pakistan get to 270, Saqlain's innings was most impressive and he played an audacious reverse sweep in that sweet and valuable knock of his.

The Zimbabwean bowlers did well in the middle overs where they picked up wickets and did not get bogged under pressure, although there ground fielding was sloppy and a bit of an eyesore.

Zimbabweans must realise they do not have any great batsmen and bowlers in their side, it is their outstanding fielding abilities weaved with the average performance with the bat and has got them so far in the tournament.

With Neil Johnson having made a century in the previous match he must have been waiting to get back into the batting gear. The first ball of Akhtar knocked him on the helmet and for a moment he looked jaded, but then quickly regained his composure to time the ball sweetly. Akram and Akhtar were on fire in their initial spells, the ball which got Flower was a beauty of a yorker. Razzaq then ripped open the Zimbabwean top order with a lively spell of seam bowling. At this stage a victory for the Zimbabweans was out of the question, but then they are competing for a place in the Semi Finals of the World Cup and if this is how they are going to apply themselves in their batting, their semi final encounter will also end with this result.

Johnson got a well deserved half century, but then did not have too many partners for him to script a victory over Pakistan. The lower half of the Zimbabweans were making an effort to give some respectability to the total, but Saqlain was just too much for them to digest. Three quick wickets saw the end of the Zimbabwean innings and also ensured Saqlain got a hat-trick. He is a complete off-spinner who has baffled the entire cricketing world with his drifter and today with this hat-trick, although of the tail enders, has once again proved that he is the best in the business.

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