Zimbabwe v Pakistan, only Test, Bulawayo, 3rd day September 3, 2011

Patient Pakistan crawl towards first-innings lead

16

Pakistan 357 for 5 (Hafeez 119, Azhar 75, Misbah 66, Younis 61*, Lamb 3-85) trail Zimbabwe 412 (Mawoyo 163*, Cheema 4-79, Ajmal 4-143) by 55 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan accumulated 241 runs on the third day, as the lifeless Queens Park Club pitch joined forces with batsmen lacking in intent and butter-fingered fielders to leave the match meandering towards oblivion. Mohammad Hafeez made his first away ton, and Azhar Ali contributed a steady half-century, but Misbah-ul-Haq produced the most impressive innings of the day as Pakistan crawled towards first-innings parity. Zimbabwe played their part in Pakistan's dominance, spilling five catches in the innings, to leave their limited bowling attack in turmoil.

Zimbabwe's day of toil was ushered in by their mind-numbingly predictable lengths from the first ball - a Kyle Jarvis half-volley that Azhar punched down the ground. The seamers lacked the pace to bother the batsmen and focussed on tight lengths, hoping for an error. It was a plan that played into the hands of each of Pakistan's batsmen, starting with Hafeez.

Hafeez's forward press is designed for batsman-friendly pitches such as this one. His ability to lean out and drive through the line - and when required, on the up - makes him an entertaining fair-weather batsman. He had a scare in the second over of the day, when Chris Mpofu grassed a return catch, but the reprieve only increased Hafeez's resolve.

He remained cautious until he reached the century off his 128th ball, but after that the drives and glides began to flow more naturally, as Mpofu and Vitori paid the price for offering width.

While Hafeez played within himself, Azhar provided the sparkle. His batting technique is founded on stronger fundamentals than Hafeez's - a balanced trigger movement, decisive footwork and soft hands. Azhar was fluent off the pads, but his best strokes came through the off side, when he caressed Vitori and punched Mpofu through extra cover, off either foot.

The action slowed down in the lead-up to lunch, until Hafeez lazily spooned Hamilton Masakadza to midwicket. It was just the tonic Zimbabwe's spinners needed, and they began vigorously after the break.

Greg Lamb had a confident shout for a bat-pad catch against Younis Khan turned down, before Ray Price convinced everyone except the umpire that he had Azhar plumb in front with a slider. Younis then nearly popped a return catch to Lamb, as Zimbabwe's bowlers finally found some bite.

Azhar responded to the pressure with an exasperated inside-out carve off Lamb, before jumping out to heave him over mid-on. Lamb persevered, and nabbed Azhar with a classic offspinner's dismissal, eliciting the loose drive with flight, and finding the inside edge with the turn. With Younis fumbling against Price, it took Misbah's bloody-minded defence, interspersed with surprise moments of aggression to re-establish Pakistan's voice after lunch.

Zimbabwe dropped their third catch in three sessions, when Vusi Sibanda at midwicket missed a straightforward offering from Misbah. Thereafter Misbah was immovable. With a forward stride that would have given Jason Gillespie an inferiority complex, he smothered nearly everything that was tossed in his half. He allowed the spinners a series of dot balls before suddenly taking a six and two fours off successive balls from Lamb. Those shots signalled the end of Zimbabwe's most intense phase, and the spin gambit gave way to the second new ball.

Barring one delivery from Jarvis that seamed away to take Younis' edge, the fast bowlers remained toothless. Having stretched out miles to kill spin, Misbah receded into the crease to capitalise on leg-stump offerings from the seamers. The pull earned him a couple of boundaries, but Younis remained circumspect. Zimbabwe helped him along, with short leg fluffing a chance when Price got extra bounce seven balls before tea.

Misbah rolled past fifty, but Price's rhythm began to trouble him too. At one point, Price boasted other-worldly figures of 30-17-29-0. He turned a couple right across Misbah's bat-face from the rough, forcing him into slog-sweep mode once again. Lamb ultimately got Misbah to top-edge to a wobbly Vitori at short fine-leg, the fielder's sheepish reaction probably suggesting surprise that someone finally held a catch.

That surprise was short-lived, as Brendan Taylor promptly dropped an Umar Akmal edge in the slips. Umar couldn't capitalise, and exited in bizarre fashion on the stroke of stumps, pulling a long hop into short-leg's shoulder, for Taylor to pouch it on the rebound.

Younis plodded along though, and almost unnoticed brought up a half-century that matched Tino Mawoyo's first 50 in its slowness. The pitch may have remained largely lifeless, but the batsmen will share an equal blame if this match ends in a stalemate. Pakistan still have the chance to breathe life into it tomorrow.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bokwe on September 5, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    Don't right Zim off, this test is headed for a draw

  • on September 4, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    Pak need to take Zim just under 150 if they like to win. Many were not happy with the selection of new bowlers but we all forgot that Pak is the only Nation that produces bunch of bowlers every month. Pak need to play more Test Cricket...

  • likeintcricket on September 4, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    If Pakistan somehow get past 500 they could apply some spinning pressure on Zim and it could become interesting. But if they got out under 450 than it'll be a Draw as Zim might not want a sporty declaration.

  • Zohair.ul.hasan on September 4, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    I LOVE PAKISTAN specially muhammad haffez saeed ajmal younis khan & misbah

  • BanglaChild on September 4, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Zimbabwe played wonderful the first five sessions, but Pakistan has hit back almost achieving parity. With Younis Khan at the crease, if Pakistan bats two sessions today, this Test will peter towards a draw. Zimbabwe should take the opportunity to develop Test mentality in batting, bowling and fielding. As a Bangladeshi- we can only say it looked like Bangladesh played Test Cricket after six years, not Zimbabwe. All the best for Zimbabwe Cricket. Also good to see Pakistan young guns trying to emulate Younis Khan- a Test player par excellence

  • on September 4, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    A VERY GOOD INNINGS BY PAKISTANI BATSMEN. THE IMPRESSIVE INNINGS WAS BY MUHAMMAD HAFFEZ EVEN AZHAR ALSO PROVIDED A GOOD INNINGS. OTHER IMPRESSIVE AND BEAUTIFUL INNIGS WAS BY CAPTAIN AND WALL OF PAKISTAN TEAM MISBAH-UL-HAQ AND YOUNIS KHAN. VERY GOOD BATTING BY PAKISTAN CRICKET TEAM.

  • yamin101 on September 4, 2011, 4:31 GMT

    Where all elegant, smooth action Pak fast bowlers are gone.......

  • La_Bangla on September 4, 2011, 2:42 GMT

    Very well done Pakistan!! Show how to beat them to bangladesh. This is the firrence between good team and bad team..

  • on September 3, 2011, 20:24 GMT

    Good to see both teams fighting hard. For Zimbabwe any fight irrespective of result is good news. As for Pakistan, good to see the young batsman applying themselves. The only disappointment was Umar Akmal. He is supremely talented but really needs to learn to be patient. But still, a good day for test cricket. Shame India could not defeat England today.

  • on September 3, 2011, 18:19 GMT

    Pakistan should declare soon and aim to bowl Zimbabwe out tomorrow and knock the total off on day 5.

    But that is unlikely to happen.

  • Bokwe on September 5, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    Don't right Zim off, this test is headed for a draw

  • on September 4, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    Pak need to take Zim just under 150 if they like to win. Many were not happy with the selection of new bowlers but we all forgot that Pak is the only Nation that produces bunch of bowlers every month. Pak need to play more Test Cricket...

  • likeintcricket on September 4, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    If Pakistan somehow get past 500 they could apply some spinning pressure on Zim and it could become interesting. But if they got out under 450 than it'll be a Draw as Zim might not want a sporty declaration.

  • Zohair.ul.hasan on September 4, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    I LOVE PAKISTAN specially muhammad haffez saeed ajmal younis khan & misbah

  • BanglaChild on September 4, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Zimbabwe played wonderful the first five sessions, but Pakistan has hit back almost achieving parity. With Younis Khan at the crease, if Pakistan bats two sessions today, this Test will peter towards a draw. Zimbabwe should take the opportunity to develop Test mentality in batting, bowling and fielding. As a Bangladeshi- we can only say it looked like Bangladesh played Test Cricket after six years, not Zimbabwe. All the best for Zimbabwe Cricket. Also good to see Pakistan young guns trying to emulate Younis Khan- a Test player par excellence

  • on September 4, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    A VERY GOOD INNINGS BY PAKISTANI BATSMEN. THE IMPRESSIVE INNINGS WAS BY MUHAMMAD HAFFEZ EVEN AZHAR ALSO PROVIDED A GOOD INNINGS. OTHER IMPRESSIVE AND BEAUTIFUL INNIGS WAS BY CAPTAIN AND WALL OF PAKISTAN TEAM MISBAH-UL-HAQ AND YOUNIS KHAN. VERY GOOD BATTING BY PAKISTAN CRICKET TEAM.

  • yamin101 on September 4, 2011, 4:31 GMT

    Where all elegant, smooth action Pak fast bowlers are gone.......

  • La_Bangla on September 4, 2011, 2:42 GMT

    Very well done Pakistan!! Show how to beat them to bangladesh. This is the firrence between good team and bad team..

  • on September 3, 2011, 20:24 GMT

    Good to see both teams fighting hard. For Zimbabwe any fight irrespective of result is good news. As for Pakistan, good to see the young batsman applying themselves. The only disappointment was Umar Akmal. He is supremely talented but really needs to learn to be patient. But still, a good day for test cricket. Shame India could not defeat England today.

  • on September 3, 2011, 18:19 GMT

    Pakistan should declare soon and aim to bowl Zimbabwe out tomorrow and knock the total off on day 5.

    But that is unlikely to happen.

  • on September 3, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    longlivecricket. That is the biggest Achievement to Test Cricket and regarding this Game, Hats off to Zimbabwe.

  • Stos on September 3, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    Zimbabwe looked out of it when the seamers were suffering earlier in the day, but Taylor made a very good decision by bringing in Price and Masakadza to dry things up on this fairly flat pitch. Once two batsmen are settled on a pitch like this, keeping them quiet is probably one of the best options, since if you continue bowling with the strike bowlers you probably won't get anywhere in fairly docile conditions. The two bowlers delivered very well when called upon, with Price showing why he's always an asset to have on the team (other than his attitude, I mean), and being unlucky not to take a wicket due to some fielding issues. Lamb was a bit less disciplined, although to be fair he was also a bit more aggressive, but nonetheless him and Price got Misbah to eventually attempt attacking them, and this led to his downfall. The seamers really need to work on cutting out the easy runs on the leg stump, however, since those have been far too common and took any pressure off the batsmen.

  • on September 3, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    ZIM 's chances of winning are fading quickly unless they bowl pak out with in these 50 runs. Pakistans chances are also less now after umar dismisal so cheaply on last ball. but still they can try & break their shell to score as many lead as possible & try luckin bowling ZIMB out . 4th inings wont be easy for PAK. still 2 days left though draw seems clearly but stil minor posibility. anything can hapen. 1st thing 2morow score little bit faster & get some lead by tea( if not out by then)

  • on September 3, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    this way azahr is not going to get his any 100. he always uses 190+ balls but then lose concentration & over in a 50.he needs to score little bit more just add strike rate from 35 to 40-45.

  • on September 3, 2011, 17:40 GMT

    with umar gone on last ball if there were any chances for pak to get healthy lead are fading & draw seems confirm unless pak build good lead in quick time & then try their luck in bowling ZIM out. okay i am not saying to hit 6 r 4 on every ball BUT strike rate of 45-47 is not that risky or fast? younis & azhar used 190+ balls & strike rate of 30s is to slow in context of this match. they should have atleast made 20 runs each in same balls at strike rate of 45.

  • longlivecricket on September 3, 2011, 17:21 GMT

    It may look stale and boring since we are now getting used to of test matches not requiring the fifth day at all for a result and with the winning side not having to bat for a second time. I think we should re-name Test Cricket to '30 Wickets.'

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • longlivecricket on September 3, 2011, 17:21 GMT

    It may look stale and boring since we are now getting used to of test matches not requiring the fifth day at all for a result and with the winning side not having to bat for a second time. I think we should re-name Test Cricket to '30 Wickets.'

  • on September 3, 2011, 17:40 GMT

    with umar gone on last ball if there were any chances for pak to get healthy lead are fading & draw seems confirm unless pak build good lead in quick time & then try their luck in bowling ZIM out. okay i am not saying to hit 6 r 4 on every ball BUT strike rate of 45-47 is not that risky or fast? younis & azhar used 190+ balls & strike rate of 30s is to slow in context of this match. they should have atleast made 20 runs each in same balls at strike rate of 45.

  • on September 3, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    this way azahr is not going to get his any 100. he always uses 190+ balls but then lose concentration & over in a 50.he needs to score little bit more just add strike rate from 35 to 40-45.

  • on September 3, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    ZIM 's chances of winning are fading quickly unless they bowl pak out with in these 50 runs. Pakistans chances are also less now after umar dismisal so cheaply on last ball. but still they can try & break their shell to score as many lead as possible & try luckin bowling ZIMB out . 4th inings wont be easy for PAK. still 2 days left though draw seems clearly but stil minor posibility. anything can hapen. 1st thing 2morow score little bit faster & get some lead by tea( if not out by then)

  • Stos on September 3, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    Zimbabwe looked out of it when the seamers were suffering earlier in the day, but Taylor made a very good decision by bringing in Price and Masakadza to dry things up on this fairly flat pitch. Once two batsmen are settled on a pitch like this, keeping them quiet is probably one of the best options, since if you continue bowling with the strike bowlers you probably won't get anywhere in fairly docile conditions. The two bowlers delivered very well when called upon, with Price showing why he's always an asset to have on the team (other than his attitude, I mean), and being unlucky not to take a wicket due to some fielding issues. Lamb was a bit less disciplined, although to be fair he was also a bit more aggressive, but nonetheless him and Price got Misbah to eventually attempt attacking them, and this led to his downfall. The seamers really need to work on cutting out the easy runs on the leg stump, however, since those have been far too common and took any pressure off the batsmen.

  • on September 3, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    longlivecricket. That is the biggest Achievement to Test Cricket and regarding this Game, Hats off to Zimbabwe.

  • on September 3, 2011, 18:19 GMT

    Pakistan should declare soon and aim to bowl Zimbabwe out tomorrow and knock the total off on day 5.

    But that is unlikely to happen.

  • on September 3, 2011, 20:24 GMT

    Good to see both teams fighting hard. For Zimbabwe any fight irrespective of result is good news. As for Pakistan, good to see the young batsman applying themselves. The only disappointment was Umar Akmal. He is supremely talented but really needs to learn to be patient. But still, a good day for test cricket. Shame India could not defeat England today.

  • La_Bangla on September 4, 2011, 2:42 GMT

    Very well done Pakistan!! Show how to beat them to bangladesh. This is the firrence between good team and bad team..

  • yamin101 on September 4, 2011, 4:31 GMT

    Where all elegant, smooth action Pak fast bowlers are gone.......