Younis Khan ground out runs as the momentum of the first Test against Zimbabwe swung gradually in Pakistan’s favor at the Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Pakistan were 309-7 in their second innings at tea on the fourth day — an overall lead of 231, with Younis unbeaten on 136.
It was slow going, with run-scoring almost grinding to a halt at times, but the veteran Younis’ long vigil at the crease ensured that his team would be able to set Zimbabwe a challenging target on a deteriorating pitch in the final innings.
Pakistan were 23-3 early in his innings and they were again in trouble when overnight batsman Asad Shafiq was bowled in the first over of the day, leaving the visitors only 91 runs ahead with five wickets remaining.
However, wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal made a career-best 64 in a sixth-wicket stand of 118. Younis and Akmal saw off the second new ball, which was taken 10 overs into the day.
Zimbabwe, lacking out-and-out strike bowlers, were forced to bowl for containment and the batsmen refused to take risks.
In the first hour after lunch, only 18 runs were scored in 15 overs. Just when the tempo started to pick up again, Akmal was run out after a mix-up with Younis.
Abdur Rehman was trapped leg before by off-spinner Prosper Utseya shortly before tea.
Younis survived a chance when he had 83, edging medium-pacer Hamilton Maskadza low to slip, where Tina Mawoyo was slow to react.
He was kept quiet through the 90s, but bided his time until he was able to work an over-pitched ball from Tendai Chatara off his toes to the square-leg boundary for his 11th four.