Zimbabwe’s cricketers turned their frustrations from an ongoing pay dispute on to Pakistan and restricted the visitors to 249-9 on the first day of the first test on Tuesday.
Fast bowlers Tinashe Panyangara (3-71), Shingi Masakadza (2-40) and Tendai Chatara (2-64) shared seven wickets and off-spinner Prosper Utseya (2-55) got the key scalp of captain Misbah-ul-Haq (53). Azhar Ali top-scored with 78 including nine fours before he was caught by Vusi Sibanda, who took three catches in the slips.
Tailenders Saeed Ajmal (49 not out) and Junaid Khan (17) added an invaluable 67 runs before Khan was dismissed in the last over of the day.
Ajmal dominated the ninth-wicket stand by hitting six fours and a six, but his hopes for a half century rested on last man Rahat Ali’s ability to survive the last ball of Panyangara’s over, the first ball bowled yesterday. Ali did survive, but Ajmal was bowled by Chatara facing his first ball of the day, to leave Pakistan 249 all out.
Zimbabwe took the field only after the Zimbabwe Cricket Union agreed to clear the players’ dues before the second test next week. However, middle-order batsman Sean Williams preferred to wait for his dues to be cleared and opted out of the test.
Earlier, stand-in Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza won the toss and elected to field first after regular captain Brendan Taylor went to be with his wife, who gave birth recently.
The decision paid off within the first hour when Pakistan lost three wickets for just 27 runs.
Mohammad Hafeez, man of the series in Pakistan’s 2-1 victory in the one-day internationals last week, pushed at a Chatara delivery which had some extra bounce and edged to Sibanda for Zimbabwe’s first breakthrough in the seventh over.
Hafeez was declared fit from a hamstring injury which he sustained during Pakistan’s 108-run victory over Zimbabwe in the third and decisive one-day match.
Panyangara then had Khurram Manzoor (11) — playing his first test match for three years — LBW and then clean bowled the experienced Younis Khan (3) in successive overs to have Pakistan in trouble.
Ali resurrected Pakistan’s innings with a 93-run stand with Misbah before Sibanda pulled off a brilliant catch at short midwicket when Misbah mistimed a drive. He hit seven boundaries and faced 94 balls before the reckless stroke which made it 120-4.
Asad Shafiq also gifted his wicket after lunch when he charged down the track to Utseya’s tossed up delivery and gave a simple catch to Tino Mawoyo at backward short leg as the ball ballooned up off the batsman’s pads after an inside edge. Pakistan made it to 156-5 at tea.
Just when it looked like Ali could get a century after tea, he played a rash stroke as Misbah had after lunch. Chasing a wide delivery of Masakdaza, he edged to Sibanda at second slip.
Ajmal’s assault helped Pakistan hit back late in the day as the tailender hit two exquisite drives to the boundary off Panyangara.
Despite two quick wickets just before tea on day two yesterday, Zimbabwe were well placed at 163-3, trailing Pakistan by only 86
runs. At the crease were Malcolm Waller on 64 and Sikandar Raza on 29.
Junaid Khan had taken 2-29, including both openers caught by wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal. Ajmal had taken 1-41 after bowling Hamilton Masakdaza for 19.
Additional reporting by Staff Writer