Only Test

Pakistan in Zimbabwe, 2011

Firdose Moonda

At Bulawayo (Queens), September 1-5, 2011. Pakistan won by seven wickets. Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: G. A. Lamb; Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan.

Zimbabwe's encouraging return to the Test arena was rudely interrupted by Pakistan, who inflicted a hard-fought but ultimately comprehensive beating four weeks after Taylor's team had triumphantly seen off Bangladesh. Saeed Ajmal and his unpickable doosras were the main difference between the sides, while Aizaz Cheema claimed eight for 103, the second-best match figures by a Pakistani debutant. But it was also a contest that highlighted the gulf between some degree of experience at Test level and almost none at all.

The result was harsh reward for Tino Mawoyo, who lasted 15 minutes short of 11 hours to become the third Zimbabwean to carry his bat in Tests; Mark Dekker and Grant Flower had previously done it, also against Pakistan. In only his second Test, Mawoyo made good use of a flat, dry pitch - Misbah-ul-Haq's insertion was a surprise, despite a substantial covering of grass - and faced 453 balls in all, hitting 20 fours. Like his team-mates, Mawoyo struggled against Ajmal's doosra, but he did not succumb to it, even if he was fortunate on 98 when Adnan Akmal made a hash of a stumping.

From 365 for five halfway through the second day Zimbabwe lost five for 47, including four to Cheema's slower balls and yorkers, before Pakistan's reply began with Mohammad Hafeez on fast forward. Badly dropped on 11 by Taylor at second slip off Vitori - and again on 79, by Mpofu off his own bowling - he decorated his innings with fierce pulls and drives to compile his third and highest Test hundred, and the first since November 2006. Hafeez added 188 for the second wicket with Azhar Ali against an inexperienced pace attack, before Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq put on 100 for the fourth. In all, Zimbabwe dropped six catches as Pakistan, bowled out shortly after lunch on the fourth day, compiled a handy lead of 54. The drops, admitted Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher, "cost us the chance of being competitive".

More fatal, though, was a third-innings collapse: they led by only 15 at the fall of the eighth wicket. Sibanda departed on the pull, his fifth such demise in a month; Ajmal removed Mawoyo, who was bowled leg stump after moving too far across his crease; and Hafeez breezed through the lower-middle order. Only Taibu batted with the patience required to prosper on a deteriorating pitch. Jarvis played a good supporting role to force the match into the last day, which began with Zimbabwe leading by 81 runs. Cheema celebrated his 32nd birthday with the last two wickets early on the fifth morning, and Pakistan chased down 88.

Man of the Match: Mohammad Hafeez.

© John Wisden & Co.