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Firdose Moonda in Bulawayo
September 2, 2011
In cricket, a combination of opposites is usually the most pleasing one. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel: the swinger and the bouncer; Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid: the aggressor and the grinder.
But these differences are often best expressed when they come up against each other. In Bulawayo, the contrast wasn't an obvious one but it was a fascinating one: the steadily dripping tap of Tino Mawoyo against Mohammad Hafeez's gushing river.
In the time it took Hafeez to reach his half-century, Mawoyo had only gathered nineteen runs. The number of boundaries Hafeez scored in his half-century - 10 - Mawoyo only managed when he had accumulated 80 runs. If Hafeez faces the 453 balls that Mawoyo did, he may well have a double century and more.
Mawoyo was content to play the waiting game and frustrate the opposition bowlers more than they could frustrate him while Hafeez took the fight straight to the Zimbabwe bowlers, offering them no respite during an attractive and engaging innings. Mawoyo's strength was in his supreme patience, Hafeez's his strokeplay.
Before the Test started, Mawoyo described himself as a person who enjoys watching the show, not being in it. After finishing day one on an undefeated and composed 82, he was in danger of becoming the star of the show, not just a supporting actor. This morning, when he scored the first runs with a classy cover drive, the credits of the movie started to roll, with Mawoyo's name dominating. And they rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and rolled. More than five hours later, they were still rolling. Mawoyo took his time delivering his soliloquy.
For a 30-minute period early on, before he reached his hundred, he had scored just three runs. He spent the entire morning session negotiating Saeed Ajmal from the Matopos End. Even after facing him for more than a day, Mawoyo still could not pick the doosra. Ajmal continued to challenge him, almost dismissing him on 98, but Mawoyo continued to defy the offspinner. He faced 13 balls on 99 before bringing up his century in a typically understated fashion, with a run that might have been a leg-bye.
An intriguing race to see if Mawoyo's score could catch up to the number of overs ensued and it was only when he reached 121 in the 120th over that he could claim a small victory. With Pakistan realising they were faced with a wall, they decided to try and hammer it down and peppered Mawoyo with short balls. He only took the bait to pull when he was convinced that it would reach the boundary, blocking or ignoring those that he thought were going to trap him.
His refusal to succumb was a sign of a strong mind, one that would not be distracted irrespective of time spent at the crease, heat, fatigue or the constant chatter by Adnan Akmal with involved many utterances of the word "yourself." Mawoyo would not be disturbed, neither would be forced to change tack and he made that clear.
Even after Mawoyo had reached the 150 mark, he did not consider it time to become more expansive, and went on to face eight dot balls before taking his next run. His celebrations were modest, perhaps because he never felt as though he had won, especially against Ajmal's doosra. Mawoyo was beaten by it all way through, until the end of his innings, when he missed one in the 150th over of the day.
By contrast, the experienced Hafeez was beaten by very little. The youth of Brian Vitori, the pace of Kyle Jarvis, the steadiness of Chris Mpofu and even the late turn from Ray Price couldn't stop the Pakistan opener. His only wobble came in the third over. After he had played two sublime off drives off Vitori, he got an edge to a delivery that moved across him. Brendan Taylor, at second slip, put down the catch and that blunder only fuelled Hafeez's fire, instead of inhibiting him.
Vitori was taken aback by the early assault, the first he has had to deal with at international level and splayed "hit me" deliveries all over the place. Too straight, too short, too wide, too full but never too good. Although the attack Hafeez faced had more zip than the one Mawoyo had to contend with, they were also more wayward, bowling too short to Hafeez, allowing him to pull comfortably. Azhar Ali was playing a more Mawoyo-like innings on the other side, which gave Hafeez the freedom to put on a firework-like display of shots.
There were many times when Mawoyo had that same freedom, but he chose not use it. It was another of those wonderful contrasts in cricket - the room to accommodate those who express themselves with the bat, like Hafeez, and the same space for those who decide that their best form of articulation is by doing things softly and carefully, like Mawoyo.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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