Spin Double-Act Wrap Up Big Pakistan Win
Pakistan 249 & 419-9d (Younus 200no) beat
Zimbabwe 327 & 120 (Ajmal 4-23) by 221 runs
First Test, Harare
Zimbabwe’s capitulation on a last-day pitch against Pakistan’s spin pairing of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman perhaps had a touch of inevitability about it, but they would still have hoped to have made a bit more of a fight of it than they did. As it was, their pursuit of 342 never got going and they spluttered to 120 all out, with Ajmal and Rehman taking four wickets apiece.
Junaid Khan actually did the early damage, dispensing with Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza to make it 19 for three. From then on it was just a question of when and by how much, not if, the home side would lose. Sikandar Raza and Malcolm Waller provided some brief resistance; following on from their first innings half-centuries with a battling fourth-wicket stand of 30.
Elton Chigumbura then did likewise and top-scored with 28, while Richmond Mutumbami did his cause of retaining his place for next week’s second Test little harm by ending on 16 not out as the lower-order folded meekly.
It is worth remembering that Zimbabwe are not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, batting line-up to find things difficult against Ajmal and Rehman - arguably the best spin pairing in world cricket at present - as England found to their cost 18 months ago in the UAE. Instead, the hosts will do well to reflect on the first half of this Test match where they had the better of the visitors. In the end, the experience and quality of Pakistan, through Younus, Ajmal and Rehman, shone through. However, the traditional mantra of losing captains of “taking the positives” for once doesn’t have a hollow ring to it.
The two teams will now stay in Harare for the second Test, which begins on Tuesday, after the cash-strapped home board decided to stay in the capital to save on travel and hotel expenses. After worries that the Test might not go ahead due to the long-running pay dispute, ESPNcricinfo is reporting that it will after some monies were paid by the board to the players. Sean Williams should also be available after resolving his differences with ZC, as will new father Brendan Taylor.
© Cricket World 2013