All-Round Zimbabwe Clinch Emotional Win

Brendan Taylor was the happy captain on the final day in Harare.
©REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo. Picture Supplied by Action Images

Zimbabwe 294 & 199 (Rahat Ali 5-52) beat
Pakistan 230 & 239 (Chatara 5-61) by 24 runs
Second Test, Harare

Tendai Chatara ensured that a series in which Zimbabwe have been so competitive throughout delivered a fairytale ending and gave them some tangible reward for their hard work over the past fortnight. He ended with figures of five for 61 as Zimbabwe claimed the last Pakistan wicket shortly after lunch on day five in Harare to win by 24 runs and spark joyful scenes.

It was another historic win for the home side, who began the ODI series with a victory but, despite showing promise, have suffered a hat-trick of defeats since then. Unusually for a so-called “minnow” they appear to be stronger in the longer forms of the game, with their showing in this Test series unexpectedly strong.

Another slightly unusual factor in their success for a team of their standing is that they haven’t relied on a handful of star players to perform. If anything Pakistan were guilty of that, whereas for Zimbabwe it was a real team effort.

That is something that Brendan Taylor, who missed the first Test to be with his new-born son but whose absence was not felt as keenly as many feared, was quick to pay tribute to afterwards.

“The great thing about winning this Test match is that everyone contributed,” he said. “In 2011, and even earlier this year, there were probably a few individuals who got us over the line. We’ve come a long way. Everyone has done something today.”

A look at the stats from the series bears this out. Pakistan, in player of the series Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, take the first two places in the batting averages. However, Zimbabwe have five of the next seven and now have genuine competition for places in their batting order, with both Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams unable to cement a place.

Pakistan’s batting looked overly-dependent on Younus and Misbah, with Asad Shafiq and Mohammad Hafeez enduring particularly bad series, and Azhar Ali struggling apart from in one innings.

Zimbabwe’s seam quartet of Tendai Chatara, Tinashe Panyangara, Brian Vitori and Shingi Masakadza deserve a mention. They might not have the star quality of Saeed Ajmal or the impressive Junaid Khan, but they ensured that even if the wickets weren’t coming, then the runs weren’t either. They were models of consistency.

The drawn series means that Pakistan slip down to sixth in the ICC Test rankings, while Zimbabwe re-enter in ninth. The challenge for them now will be to build on this success, but that won’t be easy as, due to their board’s financial woes, they aren’t expected to play Test cricket again for many months to come.

© Cricket World 2013