Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 1st day

Manzoor's nameless stint at the crease

Plays of the day from the first day of the Harare Test between Zimbabwe and Pakistan

Firdose Moonda in Harare

September 3, 2013

Comments: 3 | Text size: A | A

Misbah-ul-Haq and Hamilton Masakadza at the toss, Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 1st day, September 3, 2013
The sight of the two captains at the toss brought an end to the speculation surrounding the possibility of a Test series © Associated Press

A relief-filled end to uncertainty
When a blazer-clad Hamilton Masakadza walked to the middle of the field for the toss, in Brendan Taylor's absence, the moment was strangely surreal. For days, even weeks, in the lead-up to the Test series, a threat loomed that it would not happen. The players have still not been paid and they may still opt to boycott the Bulawayo game, but in that moment, none of those ultimatums seemed to matter. Cricket would be played after all, even though there was only a smattering of spectators to witness it.

The case of the nameless batsman
Khurram Manzoor last played for Pakistan three years ago and is on his first tour to Zimbabwe. It's obvious, therefore, that few locals would have seen him play. The scorers probably never had. When he walked out to bat, they could not identify him to put his name on the scoreboard. While Mohammad Hafeez was recognised and listed on the board, Manzoor remained a mystery. The scoreboard operators appeared to be trying to figure out who he was when he hit the first boundary and followed it with a crisp push past mid-on. By the time he was trapped lbw, they still hadn't put his name up. He trudged back to the dressing room having been nameless on the field scoreboard.

Carelessness of the day
After being dropped from Pakistan's one-day plans, Younis Khan made his first appearance for his country in six months and did not make the best impression. After taking a big stride to defend against Tinashe Panyangara, his momentum took him further forward while the ball bounced and rolled towards his stumps. By the time Younis realised where the ball was, it was too late to turn around and try to deflect it and he could only watch helplessly as the ball hit the stumps.

The long walk back
Shingi Masakadza had spent much of the day in what seemed like a surly mood. He was bowling a beautiful probing line outside the off stump and not getting any reward. Repeatedly, he seemed to lecture himself. In his 16th over, something finally went right when Abdur Rehman was struck plumb in front of middle stump. Masakadza appealed but when he turned around, he was greeted by the sight of Rehman walking back to the change room. The sight brought a smile to the bowler's face.

Chance of the day
Zimbabwe showed the fielding commitment they were once known for and took all the reasonable chances they were presented. Vusi Sibanda was solid in the slips and even pulled off a blinder at short mid-wicket to get rid of a threatening Misbah-ul-Haq. The chance they would have wanted to hold on to was Azhar Ali's opportunity to Malcom Waller at forward short leg. Azhar, on 77 at the time, tried to paddle the ball past Waller and presented a catchable chance. The fielder got his fingers to it but could not hold on. Luckily, Azhar edged to second slip three balls later to ensure that Waller's mistake cost only one run.

Cricketers who doubled up as fans
On a working Tuesday, not many fans could find the time to head to the Harare Sports Club, so it was up to some cricketers - past and present - to make up for the fans. Ray Price, who runs the sports shop in the clubhouse was present in the morning to tend to a few matters and was persuaded to pop in for a commentary stint. He admits he has put on "four kilograms in three weeks," since his retirement. Chris Mpofu, who has only just started training after missing six months due to a stress fracture, was also in attendance. After a training session and lunch, he spent the afternoon playing pool. And Guy Whittall was wandering on the outfield, too.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by MurtaMac on (September 4, 2013, 6:01 GMT)

Does anyone really care about Khurram Manzoor or Faisal Iqbal? Except Pakistani selectors who for some strange reason keep bringing these flops back.

Posted by Pathiyal on (September 4, 2013, 5:56 GMT)

Credits to Zimbabwe team for fogetting their issues and focus on the game. their bowling performance yesterday which really deserve a mention might have cooled up a lot of internal issues there. hope they will be given their pays ASAP.

Posted by Guduji71 on (September 4, 2013, 4:45 GMT)

Azhar Ali is a very good player for Pakistan. He is a real test match batsman. He played more than half (15/28) of his test outside subcontinent and UAE and still is able to maintain a healthy average of 40 plus, tells about his class. I think it is helping Pakistan that they are playing their games away from home. It makes our players more mature and enables them to learn to adjust in different conditions more quickly. It is a blessing in disguise. The passion of cricket will never diminish in Pakistan, particularly when young players are able to watch cricket on tele quite easily these days. I think not playing in Pakistan is a blessing in disguise. Pakistan is still in top 4-5 ranked test teams. I think credit goes to our boys.

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