Pakistan almost spilt the T20I series opener against Zimbabwe when they scored a paltry 149 on a decent batting strip and Zimbabwe fell short of just 12 runs in pursuit of the target.
Babar Azam-led team had been in red-hot form in South Africa and it was expected from green shirts to cruise to the victory but once again we saw Mohammad Rizwan stepping up to the plate and carry out a major rebuilding work, scoring 82 runs and giving Pakistan bowlers just enough to defend.
The situation became so dire that Pakistan skipper had to throw the ball towards the most experienced player in the side Mohammad Hafeez who didn't bowl against Proteas but perhaps the fear of failure against a low-ranked side escalated to a degree that Babar had to turn to Hafeez' dextrous off-spin and that was one of the major turning points in the game as he only conceded 21 runs in four overs and took one wicket.
In the end, Luke Jongwe's unbeaten 30 off 23 balls compelled Pakistan to bring their A-game and had Zimbabwe believed in themselves a bit more and held their nerve in the last few overs, the result would have been in the hosts' favour.
Pakistan batsmen struggled to acclimatize to the slowness of the pitch and were found wanting against the spin as Wellington Masakadza and Wesley Madhevere spun a web around batsmen and maintained a miserly economy rate.
Zimbabwe struggled against searing pace from Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf; an aspect they would like to work on to continue to challenge Pakistan. Usman Qadir bowled considerably well against Zimbabwe and got his radar right quickly, shedding three wickets and exposing Zimbabwe's inability to dominate leg-spinners.
Pakistan got an early wake-up call and would have realized the series against Zimbabwe is no walk-in-the-park affair and they will have to avoid being too complacent or being too consumed in their minds and fear an upset from Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe dearly missed the services of their most dynamic and temperamentally strong batsman Brendan Taylor who is recovering from a gastrointestinal infection.
Babar Azam seldom misfires in the shortest format and will be upbeat to make amends tomorrow. He is only 58 runs away from becoming the fastest batsman to rack up 2,000 runs in T20I cricket.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Arshad Iqbal, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir.
Zimbabwe: Sean Williams (capt), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tanaka Chivanga, Craig Ervine, Luke Jongwe, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Wesley Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Tapiwa Mufudza, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Brendan Taylor, Donald Tiripano