Saeed Ajmal eventually snared Malcolm Waller and Sikander Raza, but their 127-run partnership hands Zimbabwe the whip
Match Report: 1st Test, Zimabwe vs Pakistan at Harare Sports Club, September 04, 2013.
Zimbabwe began the day in ideal fashion as Tendai Chatara slanted one in first ball, and threaded Ajmal’s bat-pad gap. It dashed the hopes of his half-century, also ending Pakistan’s innings for an under-par 249. As always, it was left to the bowlers to restore parity in the game.
The hosts began in circumspect fashion, and barring a lucky four, were generally kept quiet by Junaid Khan and Rahat Ali’s discipline and pace. Without their best two batsmen: Taylor and Sean Williams, they were perhaps aware how quickly Pakistan could run through this line-up. Just as Mawoyo was growing in confidence, Junaid came around the wicket and the change of angle had him nicking behind. Sibanda, in good form in the ODI series then took on Rahat Ali and briefly came out on top. One particular over, when he glanced a four to fine-leg fence, before twice hitting along-the-ground off drives to extra cover and long off, was particularly impressive. Masakadza greeted Ajmal with a terrific Zimbabwe looked in control at lunch, 67/1.
After lunch however, the familiar issue of a set batsman throwing away his start re-appeared as both men fell to consecutive balls from Junaid (who took out Sibanda) and Ajmal. Pakistan’s lead was 180 and it looked like they would soon settle for a huge lead. However Malcolm Waller came out with a positive frame of mind and played a fiesty little cameo, even as Sikander Raza, playing against his country of birth, dropped anchor. Waller hit his first ball, against Ajmal, to cover fence and punished the best bowlers: Junaid and Ajmal, before gleefully lapping up part-time dollies by Younis Khan. His 63-ball half century quickly whittled the lead below 100 odd in a space of an hour, as Waller hit thirteen boundaries in his 62*.
It left the visitors with a disconcerting sight as they looked at Saeed Ajmal’s batting to save humiliation and now had to turn to Younis Khan’s bowling to get a breakthrough against the lowest ranked test team..
After tea Raza opened up too, raining five boundaries in a space of fifteen balls, thrice pulling Junaid Khan to the fence and then punishing Abdur Rehman’s tossed up deliveries. He duly reached his half-century on debut and just as both were looking to build on the momentum, Ajmal yet again enticed Waller to an expansive drive – catching his outside edge to break the 127-run partnership. He soon got Raza too, and followed up with a beautifully disguised doosra to Mutumbami as the hosts’ middle order threatened to undo the good work.
Scorecard: Pakistan 249 (Azhar Ali 78, Misbah 53, Panganyara 3/71, Shingi Masakadza 2/40) vs Zimbabwe 235/6 (74 overs)
Player(s) of the day: TBD
Disappointment of the day: TBD