Pakistan 249 (Azhar 78, Chatara 3-64) v
Zimbabwe 281-7 (Waller 70, Ajmal 4-77)
First Test, Harare, day two
Zimbabwe continue to more than hold their own in the first Test against Pakistan despite their board’s serious financial difficulties that have today resulted in the second Test being moved from Bulawayo to Harare on cost grounds.
Tendai Chatara wrapped up the Pakistan first innings at 249 with just the second ball of the day, with Zimbabwe then bouncing back well from a potentially perilous 68 for three to close 32 runs ahead on 281 for seven. Debutant Sikandar Raza and Malcolm Waller both made half-centuries and added 127 for the fourth-wicket.
Captain Brendan Taylor was at the ground to watch his team-mates bat following the birth of his son. He first witnessed Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda get off to a solid start against Pakistan’s new ball pairing of Junaid Khan and Rahat Ali. The first hour has been crucial in most of the matches at Harare Sports Club in the recent past so he will have been encouraged with what he saw, at least initially.
Unfortunately for the hosts, Junaid Khan had Mawoyo edging to Adnan Akmal and then, almost immediately after the lunch break, broke the promising second-wicket partnership between Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza by having the former caught behind for 31.
With Saeed Ajmal then clean-bowling Masakadza, 68 for one had suddenly become 68 for three and the sparse home crowd would have been fearing a collapse, especially as Zimbabwe’s historic weakness against spin was about to be further tested.
However, Waller and Raza played with relative fluency and re-established a slight ascendancy to continue what has, thus far, been an absorbing Test match. Waller brought up his fifty off just 63 balls before tea and began to hit boundaries almost at will. Raza was slightly more circumspect, but still scored at a decent pace and reached his fifty off 98 balls.
Waller was extracted by Ajmal two short of his Test best of 72, with Raza and new batsman Richmond Mutumbami then following suit, also to Ajmal, in fairly quick succession to leave Zimbabwe still 14 runs adrift on 235 for six.
However, Elton Chigumbura, with questions lingering around his continued presence in the side as a non-bowling all-rounder, did the bulk of the scoring in a seventh-wicket stand of 42 with Prosper Utseya to take Zimbabwe into the lead. He ended on 40 not out, with Utseya handing Rahat Ali a first wicket of the innings a little before stumps.
Pakistan’s bowlers have bowled reasonably but nowhere near as well as their fans would have been hoping. They have encountered more resistance from this weakened Zimbabwe middle-order than they would have imagined. Abdur Rehman, perhaps surprisingly, went wicket-less, with Ajmal, unsurprisingly, the pick of their attack with figures of four for 77.
© Cricket World 2013