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Firdose Moonda in Bulawayo
September 4, 2011
The Pakistan team have made no secret of their desire to visit Victoria Falls during their tour of Zimbabwe. They have also mentioned that they are unsure when they would be able to fit the six-hour road journey from Bulawayo into their tight schedule.
Had they obliterated Zimbabwe's lower order in the same way as they the top and middle orders, and knocked off the small target they would have been set, Pakistan could have used Monday for sightseeing. Instead, they will return to Queens Sports Club facing a deficit of 81 runs and with two Zimbabwe wickets still to dislodge.
"We got a little bit frustrated in the middle session and gave away a few too many runs," Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach said. "But, the game is still very much in our favour at the moment. We have to come back and make sure they don't get too many more and try to get those runs as soon as possible."
Pakistan have not won consecutive Tests since 2005 but look likely to record a second successive win, having beaten the West Indies in their last Test in May. They showed their intent in taking control of the match in the first session, when they scored 103 runs at a slightly higher rate than they had managed throughout the third day. Younis Khan was more purposeful in his strokeplay and Adnan Akmal was enterprising in making 36 off 45 balls. "We knew that if we got a decent lead, we would have a fair chance of getting them out cheaply," Waqar said. Saeed Ajmal contributed 28 but the lower order was skittled quickly after lunch, resulting in a lead of only 54 runs.
However, Pakistan made that slim advantage count and snaffled five second innings wickets before Zimbabwe had wiped out their lead. "I think it was the pressure we put on them," Waqar said. "The bowlers bowled really well and we didn't give them a chance to get settled and so a lot of them played rash shots."
The bulk of that pressure was created by Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez, but Waqar added that the role of Akmal, the wicketkeeper, should not be ignored. "In the first innings he wasn't really up to the mark, but in the second innings he knew what he needed to do and he kept really well," Waqar said.
Despite Pakistan's success in the field today, there has been some concern over the course of the match about their inexperienced fast bowlers. "It was difficult to come into the Test match, with only one Test between the three [Aizaz Cheema, Sohail Khan and Junaid Khan] and with none of them having taken a wicket in Tests," Waqar said. "Aizaz Cheema really bowled with some fire and aggression, he was pretty good and you can see that he has some future for Pakistan."
The two Khans, Junaid and Sohail received less praise from the coach, who indicated that they some way to go before they will able to challenge the likes of Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz for regular spots in the team. "Junaid has been part of the team for the last eight months. He also played for Lancashire and he did well there but is on a learning curve. He is good one day bowler but he still a lot to learn when it comes to the longer version. "Sohail Khan has got to work on his fitness."
Despite his criticisms of Sohail and Junaid, Waqar said he had "no regrets" about leaving out Sohail Tanvir, the left-arm fast bowler, saying he thought the three bowlers who played had "done a wonderful job".
However, Waqar will not be around to help with the development of the trio because this is his last series as coach. He announced before the tour of Zimbabwe that he would be stepping down for personal reasons after 18 months as coach and said he was pleased with the way his tenure had panned out. "It has been very satisfying. We've beaten New Zealand in New Zealand, West Indies in West Indies and we drew against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates. We've got a young team, who have played fairly well, so overall I am happy with the progress they have made."
While his future plans are not immediately clear, Waqar hopes to remain in cricket, probably as a commentator.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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