By BV Swagath
Zimbabwe worked hard to take a slender first innings lead of 32 runs with three wickets in hand in the opening Test at Harare. The hosts finished Day 2 at 281 for 7 in reply to Pakistan's 249. Although moral victory goes to Zimbabwe, it is Pakistan who will be more than happy to come back in the contest by ensuring that the hosts didn’t run away with the advantage.
The final session was all about Zimbabwe getting into the lead and at the same time squandering its advantage by losing too many wickets. The crucial 4th wicket stand between Waller and Sikandar Raza was broken early after the Tea Break by Saeed Ajmal. It was a tossed up delivery from Ajmal which lured the well set Malcolm Waller into an expansive drive to force a nick to slip. Waller was playing so well until then on 70 from 100 balls with 14 fours. The 28-year-old rescued Zimbabwe from 68 for 3 to 195 for 4 alongside debutant Raza.
Mid way through the final session, Sikandar Raza threw his wicket away just like how Misbah got out on Day 1 trying to play a big shot out of nowhere. Raza scored 60 from 118 balls (with 10 fours) before losing his wicket to Ajmal. Zimbabwe lost another wicket in the form of Wicket Keeper Richmond Mutumbani before getting past Pak’s total of 249. It was an Ajmal’s doosra which trapped the young man lbw. The hosts were fortunate to get a useful stand of 43 runs for the 7th wicket which took them into the lead. The partnership between Chigumbura and Utseya was broken in the 86th over by a beautiful late inswinger from Rahat Ali. Utseya was bowled right through the gate having scored 16 from 43 balls.
Going into Day 3, Zimbabwe still have some hopes of stretching their first innings lead with Elton Chigumbura on 40* (from 80 balls with 5 fours) at the crease. For the Pakistanis, Saeed Ajmal needs one more wicket to clinch his 8th five-wicket haul.
Update at Tea on Day 2: A fighting fourth wicket stand of 95 runs between Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza has helped Zimbabwe from a possible collapse in the afternoon session. Waller’s positive knock of 64* has taken Zimbabwe to 163 for 5 in 55 overs. The hosts now trail behind by 82 runs with five wickets in hand.
Pakistan got back in the game strongly by getting the key wickets of Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza in consecutive deliveries. Sibanda got out after scoring 31 from 85 balls with Junaid Khan forcing him into a false drive for a nick behind in the third over after lunch. The very next ball, Skipper Masakadza was bowled by a magical doosra from Ajmal which was drifting towards middle but spun away to hit off. Rattled at 68 for 3, Zimbabwe recovered thanks to the fourth wicket stand between Waller and Raza.
Update at Lunch on Day 2: Zimbabwe look good at 67 for 1 after bowling out Pakistan for 249 in the First Test at Harare. Opener Vusi Sibanda took quite a few body blows to remain unbeaten on a brave 30 from 74 balls. Skipper Hamilton Masakadza who joined him in the 9th over has moved onto 19* from 44 balls which includes a confident six off Saeed Ajmal.
The Zimbabweans lost their first wicket when Junaid Khan from round the sticks angled one into the right-handed Tino Mawayo (13) and got it to seam away to force an edge. The hosts have batted out 24 overs before lunch losing only Mawayo. Prior to that, it took just two balls for the hosts to get the last Pakistani wicket with overnight batsman Saeed Ajmal losing his off stump to Tendai Chatara. Ajmal couldn’t add anything to his overnight score of 49 to miss out on what could have been a 2nd Test fifty.