Zimbabwe fought back to 165-3 at tea on the first day of the second Test against Pakistan, adding 100 runs for the loss of just Hamilton Masakadza in the second session yesterday.
Masakadza departed after being caught at slip off spinner Saeed Ajmal for 75, but captain Brendan Taylor was well set on 48 not out and Malcolm Waller was 18 not out at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe faced a tough opening spell, losing Tino Mawoyo off the second ball of the match and fellow opener Vusi Sibanda for 14 to be 31-2 before Masakadza and Taylor combined for a 110-run stand for the third wicket.
Zimbabwe’s most experienced batsmen dragged the hosts out of early trouble, giving them a chance of making a solid first-innings score and avoiding a fifth series defeat in seven since returning to Test cricket in 2011.
Left-arm pace bowlers Rahat Ali and Junaid Khan and off-spinner Ajmal had one wicket each for Pakistan, who won the first Test by 221 runs and were immediately on top at the start of the second, although Mawoyo’s early dismissal appeared to be a mistake with TV replays showing the ball flicked his thigh and not his bat before carrying through to wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal.
He was still given out caught behind off Khan, and Sibanda chopped a short ball from Ali onto his stumps in the 17th over in a labored start for the home team, who did not score a run until the fifth over.
Masakadza counterattacked with nine fours and a six, and Taylor had hit six boundaries on his return to action after missing the first Test because of the birth of his first child.
Masakadza fell seven overs before the tea interval when he edged to Mohammad Hafeez at slip after being deceived by Ajmal’s doosra.
However, Waller settled in alongside Taylor, striking 16 of his 18 runs in fours.
Taylor opted to bat first on a Harare pitch which had just two days to recover after the first Test and amid concerns that the surface would deteriorate quickly later in the game because of its overuse.
Taylor’s return to the side meant Sikandar Raza stepped down and in a second change to the side that controlled the first Test for three days before losing by 221 runs, Brian Vitori replaced fellow pace bowler Shingi Masakadza.
Pakistan kept faith in the first Test line-up as they sought a tour ‘hat-trick’ after winning both Twenty20 games and two of three one-day internationals.