Pakistan won their first-ever Test series against Zimbabwe 2-0, with a clean sweep in the one-day series. But the tour was less one-sided than this summary suggests. Zimbabwe, who had played their first Test barely a year earlier, came close to pulling off an upset in the Second Test at Rawalpindi. There they reached 135 for one in pursuit of 240 to win before they were devastated by Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram and lost by 52 runs. This settled the series, as Pakistan had already won the First Test at Karachi.
The tour was hastily arranged when Pakistan cancelled another series with India and also dropped out of the Hero Cup in Bengal because of political worries. It enabled Pakistan to play their first home series for two years, before setting off for New Zealand, while the Zimbabweans, who had travelled to India for the Hero Cup, were delighted to continue their Test education. "We have discovered that we can now stand the pressure of a three-Test tour," said their captain, Andy Flower.
Though the tourists failed to win any of their seven matches during their month in Pakistan, they left a lasting impression on the cricketing public. Their fielding was excellent and their bowlers ably exploited helpful conditions to keep Pakistan's scoring down. At Rawalpindi, Zimbabwe twice dismissed their hosts for under 250; in the final Test at Lahore they bowled them out for a paltry 147.
Though the inexperienced batting often let them down, Alistair Campbell and Mark Dekker won general admiration for the way they braved Pakistan's pace attack. Campbell, the tourists' man of the series, scored 205 - more than anyone on either side - at 41.00 in the Tests and Dekker, who carried his bat through the Rawalpindi collapse, averaged 35.75. Andy Flower, Zimbabwe's new captain, scored 158 at 39.50. The medium-pacers, Eddo Brandes, David Brain, Heath Streak and John Rennie, bowled steadily and intelligently.
Wasim and Waqar proved to be the major difference between the two teams. Waqar, who led Pakistan in the First Test because of the wrist injury Wasim had suffered in Sharjah, collected 27 wickets at 13.81. He bowled in five innings and took five or more wickets in four of them. On his return, Wasim picked up 11 wickets at 18.45 in the last two Tests, while newcomer Ashfaq Ahmed made a promising debut.
But Pakistan had little to boast about as far as their batting was concerned. Despite the experience of players like Javed Miandad and Shoaib Mohammad, who returned to Test cricket for the first time since the 1992 tour of England, not one of them could score a century, either in the Tests or in the one-day internationals - a testimony to Zimbabwe's ever improving performance. Shoaib came closest, with 81 in the First Test in Karachi, but it was the reliable and gusty left-hander, Asif Mujtaba, who headed the averages, scoring 184 runs in six innings, including three fifties. Rashid Latif put in a fine all-around performance with 169 runs and seven catches behind the stumps - five of them in the last Test. But had Zimbabwe possessed a little more experience, Pakistan might have been severely embarrassed by their first-time visitors. Despite the scoreline, Zimbabwe had greater cause for satisfaction.
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