Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 2nd day September 4, 2013

Ajmal strikes but Zimbabwe take lead


Zimbabwe 281 for 7 (Waller 70, Raza 60, Ajmal 4-77) lead Pakistan 249 (Azhar 78, Misbah 53, Chatara 3-64) by 32 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Even after the strong showing of their bowlers on the first day in Harare, doubts persisted over whether Zimbabwe would pose a challenge, given the fragility of their Test batting, especially in the absence of Brendan Taylor, and the quality of Pakistan's attack. Those concerns were heightened soon after lunch, when both the set batsmen Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza were dismissed off consecutive deliveries.

However Malcolm Waller, who found form over the past week after a miserable series against India, and the debutant Sikandar Raza underlined Zimbabwe's ability to stand up to the bigger teams with a 127-run partnership for the fourth wicket that put the hosts on course for the lead. They were ahead by 32 at stumps, and will probably need a few more considering they have to bat last in the game, when Saeed Ajmal's bag of tricks will prove a handful.

For the second day in a row, Ajmal did his bit to keep Pakistan from falling too far back in the game. On Tuesday, his unbeaten 49 had rescued Pakistan from 182 for 8, and today, after being dismissed first ball in the morning, he snared four wickets to keep Zimbabwe's lead from getting out of hand. Still, there can be no doubts over which of the two sides will be happier at this stage of the Test - Zimbabwe's stand-in captain Masakadza sported a huge grin and even tried out a couple of dance moves as he watched the final overs of the day.

The only time Pakistan looked like they could take control of the game was early in the second session, when Zimbabwe slipped to 68 for 3. Junaid Khan, the pace spearhead, was rewarded for a probing over in which he tweaked his line and length till he got it perfect on the final delivery, inducing Sibanda to nick to the keeper. Off the next ball, Ajmal fired in a straighter one and Masakadza was bowled as he played for the offspin.

Raza was playing his first Test and Waller hadn't scored a half-century in any format since his 55 at the start of the Bangladesh series in April. With the wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami not being a recognised batsman, the lower order didn't inspire too much confidence.

Waller, though, wasn't cowed by the situation, showing his confidence by hitting his first ball for four, a cover drive off Ajmal. That shot made a frequent appearance as Waller sprinted to 33 off 30 balls, with seven boundaries. In what had been a low-scoring game, that burst of run making shifted the pressure back on Pakistan, and made it easier for Raza to settle. Waller batted with an open stance and regularly cashed in on the width offered, slapping the ball past point, bringing up his half-century with one of those shots.

Raza was more cautious early on, but swiftly grew in confidence. He was assured while using his feet against the spinners, and after having spent an hour in the middle, he was bold enough to charge out and launch Abdur Rehman over his head for four. He also employed the sweep shot, and Pakistan's challenge began to fade around tea. In 10 overs either side of the session, Waller and Raza picked off 54 runs, and Zimbabwe were clearly on top.

That was the cue for Ajmal to produce another of his moments of magic, getting Waller to edge to slips. Raza then slammed a catch to midwicket, leaving Pakistan with an outside chance of taking the lead. Elton Chigumbura, however, has been a regular source of runs lower down the order, and once again he delivered, ending the day unbeaten on 40 to put Zimbabwe well ahead.

The lower-order resistance mirrored the resolve shown by the top order before lunch. Pakistan's quicks, Junaid and Rahat Ali, produced a number of testing deliveries but couldn't maintain a consistent line, though Junaid ended Tino Mawoyo's comeback innings ended on 13.

The other opener, Sibanda, had a difficult time early on, particularly against Rahat, and was struck on the forearm and later just above the waist. He played some graceful strokes as well when the bowlers erred, the highlights being effortless off-drives down the ground. When Rahat lost his line and length in the 19th over, Sibanda took him for three fours. Keeping him company was Masakadza, who launched a six onto the sightscreen in Ajmal's first over.

Zimbabwe then had their post-lunch wobble but showed enough spine to finish the day as frontrunners.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on September 5, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    at this rate saeed ajmal should have more tyan 500 wickets in 100 test matches I.e if he plays 100 tests

  • Rakesh on September 5, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    @Captain_Tuk_Tuk - How many of the Pakistani batsman know how to play test match shots? They only know T20 or Misbah cricket cricket with snail type run rate. Bowling can only bail you out so many times. If the bwoling fails like it has done in this match. Giving over 300 to zimbabwe is a failure. Zim are maintaining a runrate of over 3. Pkaistan struggled to reach even near 3.

  • Rakesh on September 5, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    @Captain_Tuk_Tuk - Mate. No one know the future. You comment on what is present. 8 years is a big time in pakistani cricket. There might be 100 new bowlers by then. Regading India - Atleast Indian bowlers were able to win India all the 5 ODIs. Unlike your team who lost an ODI and look to loose this test too if Zim nanage a lead of anything over 100. Barring Ajmal rest of the bowling attack looks clueless. What happened to Rehman? Dont give reasons for pitch not assisting. Good bowlers dont need assistance from the pitch. Akram, Waqar, Kapil etc took loads of wickets on dry sub continent wickets. @DineshCC - The lead is almost twice what you said would be.

  • Android on September 5, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    wow.. gr8 batting display by zim by batting 100 overs against a pretty good bowling attack. and also maintaining very good run rate. hope they dont let pak team back in this match. will c. younus khan has a big role to play in 2nd innings of pakistan.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx i beleive you have problem of little amnesia (pak beat world number 1, 3-0 thats why they still keep 4th position, morever pakistan team doesnt get much test crickers since few years thats why they have problems like they are suffering in south africa nad now zimbab

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 6:57 GMT


    Uh, everyone knows how pathetic Pakistan's batting line up is. To tout that that mediocre bowler Utseya is better than Ajmal/Rehman on the basis that the mediocre batsmen (Pak's batters with weak base) struggled against him as opposed to the relatively more technical zim batsmen is a joke.

    Utseya didn't trouble the strong Indian line-up.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    poor performance by pak team which is real performance now a day...supporter should b confes reality... now a days pak team are shadow of 90"s team.. today looks their opener khurrum or nasir jamshed low average and lower quality batsman as well as poorfielder..in this team fast bowling are worst than associate country like ireland, afganistan scotland, .............Pakistan cricket will banish in future.............

  • DINESH on September 5, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Cricket Analyst: To some extent your analysis is correct. But the test match is not yet over. The lead will be restricted to only 35 and not 120. If pakistan score only 200 in the 2nd innings, they have the bowling strength to rout Zimbabwe below 150. As the pitch is detoriarating, the 4th innings is very difficult.

  • Anant kumar on September 5, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    Only 3-4 players from the regular ODI side in the test team? I believe this concept of separate teams for tests and ODIs does not go well with sub-continent countries. If Pakistan are to improve their ODI side then they should include more ODI players in the test team since temperament which is a vital factor in ODIs, can be learnt from test matches only. The same initiative will also improve the test side because the so called test players get hardly a few matches in an entire year and they look rusty if they play after such long gaps. T20 team can be a separate eleven since neither technique nor temperament is required in this format but the other two formats are quite complementary and Pakistan will have to maintain a balance between the two to ensure their uplift.

  • Yasir on September 5, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    Such days have come that we Pakistan batting has to rely on Ajmal..What a team we got here.Good job Whatmore & PCB..Now we can't even bat properly against teams like Zimbabwe.That small hope i had about the bright future of Pak batting,that hope was crushed today..