Harare - Spinner Imad Wasim rescued Pakistan from an unconvincing batting display as his 4-11 set up a 13-run win over Zimbabwe on Sunday in the first of two Twenty20 internationals.
Wasim's career-best figures in internationals ensured Pakistan's 136-8 was enough to win the tour opener at Harare Sports Club. The slow left-arm bowler was instrumental as Zimbabwe only managed 123-9 in its 20 overs.
Shoaib Malik made 35 and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan 33 for Pakistan after captain Shahid Afridi chose to bat first. The decision by Afridi almost backfired, with Pakistan only just hanging on to maintain its record of never having lost a T20 game to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura led the chase with 31, but his run out first ball of the last over ended the hopes of the home team, which had lost wickets regularly in its pursuit of Pakistan's mediocre total.
Batting first, both Pakistan openers departed inside four overs. Umar Akmal only made 14 and Afridi — batting down at No. 8 — also failed with just two off three balls. Malik hit two fours and a six to boost Pakistan's total, but it still didn't appear to be enough.
Wasim was the decisive factor in Pakistan's bowling and fielding effort, though.
He removed four of Zimbabwe's top five batsmen and played a role in another two run outs to see the home team slump to 90-7.
With Chigumbura at the crease, and needing 16 off the last over, Zimbabwe had an outside chance of another surprise win following recent limited-overs victories over India and New Zealand. But the skipper called for a quick single from the non-striker's end when the ball went through to the wicketkeeper and ended up running himself out after a direct hit from wicketkeeper Rizwan.
The second T20 is on Tuesday. The teams also play a three-game ODI series.