Pakistan September 12; Zimbabwe’s fast bowlers ripped through Pakistan with the second new ball, the visitors collapsing from 182 for 3 to 230 all out. Brian Vitori, in his first Test in nearly 20 months, did most of the damage claiming his maiden five-wicket haul, while Tinashe Panyangara dislodged the solid Younis Khan for 77. Zimbabwe’s efforts earned them an invaluable 64-run lead – to go along with a 78-run first-innings advantage in the first Test – and their top order got through 14 overs in the second innings for the loss of the promoted Prosper Utseya, opening in place of an ill Vusi Sibanda.
Pakistan got themselves into a vulnerable position against the impending new ball, when they scraped 48 runs in 28 overs in the morning session. It set them up for a possible meltdown in case the set batsmen fell, and that is exactly what happened. Misbah departed to the second delivery after the new ball was taken, and the rest of the line-up was shot out in less than 25 overs.
Pakistan’s strategy in the morning seemed to be to try and get through to the ball change, due in 12 overs at the start, with their overnight pair of Misbah and Younis. That was a sensible thought, the pair having added 67 in a rebuilding effort the previous evening. But the manner in which both executed that strategy left Pakistan stalled. Only 19 runs were added in the 12 overs leading up to the new ball, five of them from part-timer Elton Chigumbura.
Admittedly, run-scoring wasn’t easy on the pitch, as it had not been the previous day. The ball wasn’t quite coming on, the medium-pace and disciplined lengths of the Zimbabwe seamers weren’t helping and the presence of cracks on the good length area would have been on the minds of the batsmen. Not that any delivery behaved alarmingly, though.
After successfully making it to the new ball in his chosen way, Misbah decided to change his approach. The second delivery Vitori bowled with the new one, a wide one outside off, Misbah lunged to drive and edged to first slip. His innings of 33 from 120 balls did little to dispel the perception among fans that he bats long for relatively few returns and falls at the wrong time. It was the third successive time in the series Misbah had fallen after getting a start and also the third successive time he had given it away trying a forcing stroke against the run of play.
Asad Shafiq hung around for a while and seemed to have got in when he was bowled by a sharp incutter from Tendai Chatara, stuck on the crease in an dismissal identical to the way he had gone in the second innings of the first Test.
Younis was excellent in defence, getting forward early and standing outside his crease to be near the pitch of the ball. But the fact that Pakistan ran only eight singles in the session was an indictment against him as well. Pakistan went to lunch on 211 for 5, still 83 behind Zimbabwe’s 294.
After the break, Younis came out appearing intent to make amends for Pakistan’s sedate start. He drove at everything that was pitched up. Panyangara gave him three successive such deliveries, wide outside off, all of which were driven. The fourth one was bowled into the pad. Younis, with his instinct to push forward, could not keep the flick down and midwicket took the catch.
It was mostly down to Adnan Akmal now, Abdur Rehman having gone lbw first ball to Panyangara. But unlike the second innings of the first Test, the wicketkeeper disappointed. He was beaten on the drive by Vitori, bowling from round the wicket, but went for a similar expansive stroke next ball, and was taken at second slip. Unlike Zimbabwe’s last pair, there was absolutely no resistance from Pakistan’s tail, Vitori snapping up the last two to end with 5 for 61.
For an unranked side to take the lead in successive Tests against the No 4 side in the world is an immense achievement. To do it while having to fight for getting even the modest sums you earn is staggering. The bitter reward: no scheduled bilateral series for the next nine months.
Tea Zimbabwe 294 and 30 for 1 (Mawoyo 15*, H Masakadza 4*) lead Pakistan 230 (Younis 77, Manzoor 51, Vitori 5-61) by 94 runs