On Sunday, Pakistan wrapped up a five-nil whitewash of Zimbabwe. The final innings of the series played out by Zimbabwe perhaps captured the tone of the series in a sardonic manner, as the hosts stuttered to 233/4 in their 50 overs chasing Pakistan’s 364/4.
That reply in the fifth and final ODI was a corollary of the sheer dominance of the Pakistani side, which had allowed Zimbabwe to score little over 500 runs in the first four matches combined. Compare this to the almost 400 that Pakistan scored in the fourth ODI alone.
The ‘almost’ here is stinging, since Pakistan’s 399/1 in the fourth ODI – their highest ever team score in the 50-over format – fell just one run shot of the 400 mark, which the team had never passed. But the match itself was noteworthy as two massive records went tumbling.
The opening partnership of 304 runs between Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq was the highest ever opening stand in the history of ODI cricket, beating the record created by Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga with 284 runs in 2006. It was also the fourth highest partnership for wicket in ODI history, and the highest ever for Pakistan.
As both openers centuries in the stand, Fakhar went one step further becoming the first Pakistani batsman to score a double ton with his 210* breaking Saeed Anwar’s 21-year-old record of 194 against India at Chennai.
Fakhar is now only the sixth batsman to score a double century in ODIs, the second to do it away from home – along with Chris Gayle who also scored a double ton against Zimbabwe during the 2015 World Cup in Australia – and the only player to do so against the home side.
Following his record breaking double century, Fakhar Zaman also became the fastest to reach 1,000 ODI runs in the fifth ODI, doing so in 18 matches. He is also the quickest to score a double century.
The dominance of the opening duo for Pakistan was such that the rest of the batting lineup couldn’t really get a look in. Imam scored three centuries in the series, with Fakhar scoring a double ton, a century, two half-centuries and another 43*.
The only time Babar Azam could get a long enough look in, he managed to score a hundred. In the final ODI, with his second 50 runs coming in only 17 balls, it is perhaps an indication of how he should look at playing in the latter stages of ODIs.
Asif Ali also managed to get the opportunity to bludgeon the ball around on a couple of occasions, to build on his showings in the T20I tri-series as he now has established himself in both forms of the shorter formats. Shoaib Malik managed to squeeze in a record as well, becoming the ninth Pakistani to score 7,000 ODI runs.
With the likes of Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan not even getting a shot at batting, Pakistan clearly have a lot of satisfaction to take home for the batting department.
Even so, the fact remains that Zimbabwe weren’t exactly the toughest of oppositions. The next 12 months would see Pakistan take on a wide array of challenges in the ODI format, which would be a test of where they stand in the 50-over format, after having conquered all before them in the T20s.
Pakistan’s next challenge would be the Asia Cup in the UAE in September, which would be followed by the tours of Australia and New Zealand, also in the Emirates. Then Pakistan have the challenging tour to South Africa between December and February. After the PSL next year Pakistan would tour England for a limited-overs series, which will be followed by the ODI World Cup.
As things stand, the hopes are high for the World Cup. And with Pakistan taking on all of the top teams over the next 12 months, a successful run could reaffirm the team’s billing as the favourites.