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Firdose Moonda in Bulawayo
September 2, 2011
As Tino Mawoyo left the end-of-day press conference, with his path firmly directed towards "getting some sleep", he was stopped by an unlikely fan. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq interrupted Mawoyo's beeline for the team bus with a rough jolt of the shoulder.
"Well batted," Misbah said. "You've had a long day and I thought you played really well."
Mawoyo gave him a warm smile and they shook hands. It was a smile that expressed more satisfaction than Mawoyo had shown throughout his innings, which was carefully structured and hugely impressive, a knock that called on his all powers of concentration.
The ten-hour and forty-five minute marathon was paced exquisitely. There was never a passage of play in which Mawoyo changed gear, no acceleration in the middle, no sprint to the finish, just a steady progression from beginning to end. There were few emotions, of joy or otherwise, and it was that stern focus that led Mawoyo to his highest score in all forms of the game.
"I had been saying to the coach that I felt as though I kept getting starts but I wasn't pushing on," Mawoyo said. "I wanted to make one of those starts count and I think it worked this time."
It was only Mawoyo's second Test but already he felt the pressure to do something more than an accomplished 30 or 40. The sense of demand came from periods in Mawoyo's domestic career when he had been under fire, phases in his first-class career when he was dropped from his provincial and franchise sides. "I perform well under pressure, it gives me a little extra drive to do well," he said.
Mawoyo has now answered enough questions to give him a credit balance in the criticism account, but he is not getting over-excited about his performance. "I don't think it's quite sunk in yet, and really, I'm just happy to have contributed. We spoke about getting the team past 400 and I am happy to have been a major part of that."
Mawoyo's lack of animation at his achievement may seem drab, but it's the one quality that helped him survive Saeed Ajmal's doosra, which threatened to undo him every time it was bowled. "It is very tricky to pick," he said. "I thought I had started reading him a little yesterday, but when he bowled from the Airport End today, I had no idea. I do know that the seam is usually a little bit more upright than when he bowls the offbreak."
The rest of the bowlers were not as challenging, although Mawoyo found that good field placement when the seamers were on made it difficult to score. Aizaz Cheema mowed through the lower order but there was little else to talk about. Misbah could not find the heart to chastise his quicks on a pitch that is flatter than the Bulawayo countryside. "They bowled their hearts out, even on the second day, they were running in and bowling bouncers."
The batsmen-friendly pitch had Mohammad Hafeez in his element as he raced to 79 off 93 balls and Misbah predicted more of the same as the match entered its middle period. "On such a good wicket, the batsmen can't control themselves and they will play their shots," he said. With some turn expected, Misbah said Ray Price was the bowler his team will have to "keep an eye on."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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