The first Test between Pakistan and Zimbabwe at Harare remained in the hosts' clutches for the first three days. However, after a double century of Younis Khan and remarkable comeback by Pakistani bowlers helped the tourists turn the tables on the opponents, clinching a 221-run victory.

[caption id="attachment_2279" align="alignright" width="237"]Fourth double century of Younis Khan’s career proved successful (Photo: AFP) Fourth double century of Younis Khan’s career proved successful (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

Zimbabwe do deserve credit for keeping the game on equal level for the first three days. But the way Pakistan came back in the match on the back of Younis' innings and later the bowlers summed up the hosts' innings to 120 runs was enough to prove Pakistan's abilities.

Pakistan were all out at 249 in the first innings and after that Zimbabwe gained more and more control of the match with every passing session. When Pakistan lost three wickets at 27, Azhar Ali (78) and Misbah-ul-Haq (53) brought some grace back to the team.

However, consistent fall of wickets restricted the score from building up, and had there not been a 67-run partnership between Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan, Pakistan would have made a much less total. Ajmal's 49 runs were a great support for Pakistan in amassing a somewhat respectable total.

Zimbabwean bowlers proved their captain's decision of fielding first correct. Not only Tendai Chatara and Panyangara, but also Shingi Masakadza and Prosper Utseya bowled well and cornered the touring side.

The start of Zimbabwe's innings was not good either. They lost three wickets at 68 including key wickets of Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda. But a partnership of 127 between Sikandar Raza and Malcolm Waller gave upper hand to the team.

Pakistani-origin Raza, who was making his Test debut against his ancestral country, helped Waller a lot and faced Pakistani bowlers with the determination of a skilled batsman.

The partnership ended when Waller was caught in the slip on Ajmal's delivery. Waller scored 70 runs off 100 balls, hitting 14 fours. Raza 60(118) became Ajmal's third wicket. He smashed 20 fours during his innings.

At this stage when half of the Zimbabwean team was back to the pavilion, Pakistan failed to capitalise the opportunity. Chigumbura scored 69 runs and gave another life to Zimbabwean innings. Zimbabwe amassed 327 runs in their first innings, taking an astonishing lead of 78 runs over Pakistan.

Ajmal took seven wickets for 95 runs, Junaid took two and Rahat took one.

The 78-run lead and Pakistan's performance in the first innings were giving a sense that all was over. And the way Pakistan started their second innings only strengthened that impression.

Pakistan lost Khuram Manzoor, Azhar Ali, and Hafeez at the total of just 23. Khuram failed in second innings too and got lbw at the hands of Panyangara. Ali got out on duck, becoming the second victim of Panyangara. Hafeez gifted his wicket in short extra cover to Chatara.

At this troubled time, Misbah and Younis took the charge to save the game. Both these men added 116 runs in the fourth wicket. The partnership could have gone longer but Misbah was trapped by S Masakadza and got out while playing to the cover. When Misbah departed after scoring 52 off 157, Pakistan were 139-4.

Asad Shafiq once again failed to live up to expectations as he fell prey to Chatara. Pakistan lost half of its side when the lead was not even 100.

[caption id="attachment_2278" align="alignright" width="201"]It was the fourth 10-wicket haul by Saeed Ajmal in Tests (Photo: AFP) It was the fourth 10-wicket haul by Saeed Ajmal in Tests (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

At this stage, Adnan Akmal supported Younis and the duo added 118 runs in the sixth wicket. Adnan scored 64 off 154. On the other end, Younis kept his calm and completed his 22nd Test century on 221 balls.

After Adnan Akmal got run-out, Pakistan lost back-to-back wickets of Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, and Junaid Khan -- all to Utseya. But it was the 88-run partnership between Younis and Rahat Ali which helped Younis near his double century.

In the final moments of the fourth day, Misbah was faced with a dilemma. If he declared the innings, Younis could not complete his 200. And if he did not declare, critics would slam him for losing an opportunity to win the game. He kept on signalling Younis to show him how much overs were left and tell him to speed up the innings. Younis played accordingly. When Pakistan had the last over to declare the innings, he completed his double century by hitting a six to Utseya. Pakistan then declared their innings on 419-9, giving Zimbabwe a winning target of 342 runs.

This was Younis’ fourth double century, during which he remained at the crease for 10 hours and 14 minutes and faced 404 balls. He hit 3 sixes and 15 fours. The tailender Rahat Ali remained not out on 35 runs off just 40 balls with the help of 3 sixes and 3 fours.

Utseya took three wickets, Chatara and Panyangara took two apiece, and Masakadza got one.

Zimbabwe started their innings to play the last few overs of the day. Ajmal took Tino Mawoyo's wicket in the day's final over when the hosts' score was just 13.

On the fifth day, Zimbabwe needed 329 runs on 9 wickets. The hosting side was under the test to face an expert bowling attack on a used track for whole 90 overs. But they could put up resistance for only 40 overs, and Junaid Khan, Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal ended Zimbabwean innings on just 120.

Junaid got opponents' captain in his first over then Sibanda in next over, ending every chance of Zimbabwe's comeback. First innings' heroes Raza and Waller were dismissed by Abdul Rehman. At 58 Zimbabwe were half gone. Ajmal rammed into Zimbabwe's tailenders, taking his wickets' tally to 11 in the match. It was a massive 221-run win for Pakistan.

A Test match which remained in Zimbabwe's favour for the first three days culminated in their defeat, thanks to Pakistan's batsmen riveting performance on the fourth day and bowlers heroics on the fifth. Pakistani bowlers who were struggling in the first innings took 9 wickets only in one session in the second innings.

Younis was declared man of the match for playing one of the memorable innings of his career.

The second Test, which was supposed to take place in Bulawayo, has now been shifted to Harare for some reason. Now both teams will again face each other on September 10 at Harare Sports Club. Pakistan are leading 1-0 in the series.
Share To:

CricNama

Post A Comment: