Harare September 14; It took a long time coming. The last time Zimbabwe won a Test against a team other than Bangladesh was in 2001, but they stayed patient through the final day even as Misbah-ul-Haq threatened to dash their hopes to win the second Test and square the two-match series.
Zimbabwe began the day just five wickets away. Pakistan weren’t too far either: they needed 106 with Misbah still around. By lunch it became two wickets and 47 runs with Misbah still fighting it out. However, despite some quick runs post lunch it took Zimbabwe just one over with the new ball to mop up the Pakistan tail and spark wild celebrations in the ground, in the dressing room, and possibly all over Harare. Tendai Chatara bowled that over, completing his maiden Test five-for.
When the teams started after lunch, there were still four overs to come with the old ball, and Misbah was keen to make the most of it. He lifted the second ball of the second session over the umpire’s head, but was fortunate it dropped just short of a diving mid-on fielder. Misbah curtailed his instincts for the next two overs, taking singles towards the end of each as he shielded Junaid Khan from the strike. In the 79th over, he pressed forward and blasted a full delivery over extra cover, then stole a couple of runs to deep cover before walking down the pitch and driving another full delivery past midwicket to the boundary. Off the fifth ball, he took a single to make it 11 off the over. In the 80th, he scored two more boundaries, but crucially for Zimbabwe, the second came off the last delivery, which meant Junaid would be exposed to the new-ball.
Chatara, who had taken two wickets earlier in the day, was entrusted with the new ball and his first delivery – an outswinger past the edge – set the tone as the cordon readied themselves. It didn’t take long as Junaid got a thick edge of the fourth delivery, straight to Malcolm Waller at gully. Rahat Ali was the new batsman, and was on strike. He, too, got an away-going delivery and was lucky his edge fell just short of Waller. Misbah, either sensing it wasn’t safe to leave the No. 11 even for one delivery or thinking the ricochet had gone far enough for them to take two runs, charged down the other end. He had one ball to face, and he had to make sure he kept the strike for the next over.
Mishah pushed the last ball softly towards cover, but after taking a couple of steps, he realised the fielder was too close. He tried to send the charging Rahat back, but by that time it was too late. The fielder lobbed the ball to the non-striker’s end to complete an easy run-out, and the team erupted in ecstasy after completing their third Test win against Pakistan.
The start of the day was more sedate and planned. The home team didn’t show any signs of restlessness as they stuck to their disciplined lines outside off and preyed on batsmen’s patience. Adnan Akmal didn’t last too long, falling in the fourth over of the morning to Chatara. Abdur Rehman provided more stubborn resistance. He partnered Misbah for 16 overs, but the stand didn’t really threaten Zimbabwe as only 34 runs were scored.
Towards the end of that partnership, Rehman showed the first signs that Pakistan were getting a move on when he charged down the pitch against Prosper Utseya and smashed for four over mid-on. His eagerness to score – he almost drove a slower delivery straight to cover in the next over – finally consumed him as he poked at a length delivery, and was caught behind. Zimbabwe had an opening, and they widened it further with the wicket of Saeed Ajmal late in the session. Chatara pitched it just short of a length and got it to sharply jag back into Ajmal, who was hit in front of off as the ball stayed low. The bowler then sprinted towards the boundary in celebration knowing the team was slowly inching close.
The celebration paled in comparison with the scenes the eventual win brought about. The magnitude of this win for a team that was not even ranked in the ICC Test team rankings before the series, in circumstances that were testing the fabric of the game in the country, is huge. The signs were there. The team won a match in the ODI series, and competed hard in the first Test only to lose it at the end to some individual brilliance. There was a bit of Cool Runnings about it; only that the Zimbabwe team went one better than the Jamaican bobsleigh team to emerge winners.
Zimbabwe 294 (Masakadza 75, Taylor 51, Junaid 4-67) and 199 (Mawoyo 58, Rahat 5-52) beat Pakistan 230 (Younis 77, Manzoor 51, Vitori 5-61) and 239 (Misbah 79*, Manzoor 54, Chatara 5-61) by 24 runs