First Test Match

Zimbabwe v Pakistan

At Harare, November 9, 10, 11, 12, 2002. Pakistan won by 119 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debuts: N. B. Mahwire; Kamran Akmal.

This match set the tone for the Zimbabwe leg of the tour: Pakistan overcame initial nerves to take advantage of Zimbabwe's weak bowling and gain a confidence that - until they crossed the Limpopo into South Africa - never left them. With Rashid Latif injured, they gave a debut to wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal. Zimbabwe called up Masakadza from his South African university, but he was short of quality practice, and it showed. They also introduced the seamer Blessing Mahwire; he hit his first ball, a long-hop from Saqlain Mushtaq, for four, but thereafter appeared overawed.

There was some fascinating, if not always first-rate, cricket on the first day, when Pakistan failed to take advantage of an inaccurate attack. Campbell, deputising as captain for Streak (injured in an auto-rickshaw crash in Sri Lanka that kept him out of the entire series), optimistically put them in, but if there was any early life in the pitch the bowlers failed to exploit it. The best was Blignaut - also recovering from a road accident - who took the first three wickets. After Taufeeq Umar scored an impressive 75, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana threatened to take the match away from Zimbabwe.

But after Inzamam's dismissal, skying a pull off Olonga on the stroke of tea, Zimbabwe pulled back, thanks to a testing spell from medium-pacer Whittall, who tied down the batsmen enough to take wickets for the other bowlers. The last six wickets fell for only 39.

Zimbabwe got into early difficulties and the Flower brothers were setting the innings back on an even keel when Andy was unfortunately given out by umpire Venkat, caught at the wicket down the leg side off his thigh pad. But Taibu held out for three hours and a maiden Test fifty, while Blignaut bludgeoned 50 in 33 balls - his last 17 in five from Saqlain - to keep Pakistan's lead down to 60. There seemed little room for complacency when Olonga took two early wickets.

But Zimbabwe's bowlers, far from pressing home their advantage, were wayward. Inzamam achieved the rare feat of a Test century before lunch, albeit in an extended 150-minute session, after bad light shortened the previous day. He got off the mark fortuitously, with a snick for four that just cleared the slips, and was perhaps lucky to survive an lbw appeal on 40. Otherwise he punished some wild bowling, plundering 112 from 107 balls with 20 fours. When 32, Inzamam became the second Pakistani after Javed Miandad to pass 6,000 Test runs. Taufeeq, who helped him add 180, batted six hours for a responsible century, and the lower order did enough to set Zimbabwe 430 in just over two days.

They did reach the more-than-respectable total of 310 - their previous best in the fourth innings of a Test was 246 - but no one reached three figures or threatened to bat on into the fifth day. Shoaib Akhtar collected seven wickets in the match; it emerged afterwards that he had been severely reprimanded for ball-tampering, but referee Clive Lloyd imposed no fine.

Man of the Match: Taufeeq Umar.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 285; Second day, Pakistan 14-1 (Taufeeq Umar 14, Younis Khan 0); Third day, Zimbabwe 19-1 (Ebrahim 9, Campbell 9).

© John Wisden & Co