Zimbabwe 237-8 (H Masakadza 75) v
Second Test, Harare
It is difficult to judge exactly who is on top after day one of the second Test in Harare. Zimbabwe closed on 237 for eight, but it should have been better after they had reached 141 for two. Pakistan’s seamers kept chipping away in the evening session, taking late wickets, meaning that it is probably they who end as the happier of the two teams.
It is hard to tell, though, as there was much talk in the build-up to this match about the likely state of the pitch. The groundsman was given only a short time to prepare it following the late decision to move the match from Bulawayo. Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor - returning from paternity leave - was perhaps influenced by those concerns and chose to bat upon winning the toss.
His presence in the side at the expense of Sikandar Raza was one of two changes to Zimbabwe’s line-up, with Brian Vitori refreshing the bowling attack after their exertions last week and replacing Shingi Maskadza. Richmond Mutumbami kept his place and will relieve Taylor of the wicket-keeping burden. Pakistan, meanwhile, were unchanged with Rahat Ali again preferred to Wahab Riaz.
It was the visitors who made the ideal start as Junaid Khan had Tino Mawoyo caught behind second ball. Rahat Ali then bowled Vusi Sibanda as Pakistan had the better of the early exchanges.
However, Zimbabwe’s two most experienced batsmen, Hamilton Masakadza and new father Brendan Taylor, combined to add 110 for the third-wicket. They batted responsibly in the face of a disciplined Pakistani attack - taking 218 balls to add the runs - but established a good position for their team.
Masakadza fell shortly before tea for 75 to first Test tormentor Saeed Ajmal, but 165 for three represented a solid showing for the hosts. Unfortunately, as in the first Test, they were unable to pull away from Pakistan and the tourists fought back.
Malcolm Waller and Richmond Mutumbami both fell to the highly impressive Junaid either side of Taylor’s dismissal at the hands of Abdur Rehman. Elton Chigumbura soon followed and it looked like the innings might be wrapped up tonight. However, Tinashe Panyangara hit 24 and added 31 with Prosper Utseya, who ended on 14 not out.
© Cricket World 2013