Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 5th day September 7, 2013

We were on top for a long time - Masakadza


Hamilton Masakadza, Zimbabwe's stand-in captain for the first Test against Pakistan, has urged the team "not to change too much" in the short turnaround ahead of the second match starting Tuesday against the same opposition at the same venue. Masakadza was pleased with both the batting and bowling efforts in the first innings and said if Zimbabwe built on those performances, they could continue to challenge Pakistan.

"There were definitely some positives. For us to take a 78-run lead after the first innings, for example, that was one of them," Masakadza said. "We were on top for a long time. It just shows that it doesn't take much for you to lose the game."

Zimbabwe were in a controlling position until the latter stages of Pakistan's second innings when Younis Khan powered his way to a double-hundred and shared in an unbeaten stand of 88 with No 11 Rahat Ali. "The partnership right at the end - that was what cost us," Masakadza said. "I didn't even expect them to be in a position to declare. I was wondering when we would finish them off and we just didn't."

Despite that, Masakadza did not believe Zimbabwe lacked the firepower needed to win a Test. "We took 19 wickets and we could have taken all 20 because we had two chances that we didn't take," he said. Younis was let off on 83 by Tino Mawoyo at first slip and on 117, Malcolm Waller put him down at gully. "We didn't have any problems creating chances. It's what you do after you create those chances. That's what we want to work on."

Masakadza praised the work put in by Zimbabwe's three frontline seamers, who kept the scoring-rate under three runs to the over. "They have improved a lot. In the past they didn't have this much control, especially for the period of time they were out there."

Between them, Tendai Chatara, Tinashe Panyangara and Shingi Masakadza bowled 97 of the 149.3 overs in the second innings, with Panyangara conceding only 1.40 runs per over. "I thought he was particularly good because he was not traditionally known as a workhorse but he showed he can do it," Masakadza said.

Panyangara was part of the group of youngsters who were fast-tracked into international cricket after the white-player walkout in 2004 but struggled to make an impact as an 18-year old. He was selected again for the 2011 World Cup but only began to register as a genuine possibility for the longest format recently, now that his fitness and form have improved considerably.

Masakadza hoped those gains would be on display in Panyangara's next showing, which would require him to recover quickly. With just two days between matches, Masakadza joked the bowlers will need "bed rest and maybe a drip" to ensure they can repeat or even better their showing next week.

It will likely fall on the same trio to carry Zimbabwe's hopes with Masakadza indicating changes to the pack would not be warranted unless there were injury concerns. Brian Vitori and the uncapped Michael Chinouya are available if needed but Zimbabwe would prefer not to tinker with a combination that worked.

Masakadza himself can do the work of a fifth bowler to render another specialist seamer surplus to requirements and Elton Chigumbura remains an option. However, the allrounder only bowled two overs in the first Test, and Masakadza explained he was picked only as a batsman because he has been "struggling" with the ball, although he may be called upon if needed.

With Prosper Utseya, who Masakadza called a "quality" spinner, likely to hold on to his slow-bowling role, the only adjustments will be made to the batting line-up. Regular captain Brendan Taylor is a certain starter and will slot back in at No 4 after missing the first match on paternity leave. But because both Malcolm Waller and debutant Sikandar Raza impressed, making room for Taylor could cost someone else his place.

Richmond Mutumbami, the wicketkeeper, may be dropped and Taylor asked to keep while there is also the possibility of Masakadza opening the batting in Tino Mawoyo's place to make room for Taylor. "We'll have to do something like that," Masakadza said. "But overall, we won't change too much."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Justin on September 8, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    There's no point being on top for a long time if you're incapable of maintaining an international standard of cricket over the full five days. Being competitive for three or four days doesn't cut it if all you're going to do is fold like a pack of cards on day five.

  • achint on September 8, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    Can anyone tell me when was the last time Zim got a 1st innings lead in a test match against a top 8 side? Cant find that on statsguru!

  • vivian on September 8, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    if elton was put in as a specialist batsman then williams will slot in becoz at any given time he is better than chigumbura so the team will be, 1. V Sibanda 2. TMK Mawoyo 3. H Masakadza 4. BRM Taylor 5. S Williams 6. MN Waller 7. R Mutumbami 8. P Utseya 9. S Masakadza 10. T Panyangara 11. T Chatara the other likely starter is B Vitori who can slot in for either T Chatara or S Masakadza to induce fresh legs and variety of left arm seam, Mawoyo cant be dropped for he is the only opening partner of Sibanda in test you cant risk H Masakadza. On R Mutumbami the selectors are rewarding domestic good run for he was the distant leading runscorer in the last logan cup boosted by a 150*

  • Dr Satendra on September 8, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    One of the highlight of the test was century stand between Waller and Raza that defined the test. It was fearless Zimbabwean attitude which percolated into out of form Chigumbura as well. Tests are remembered for such fighting knocks. Waller is a class act and instrumental in Zimbabwean chases. Zim can't afford to dop these boys. On the contrary, the top 3 were irresponsible in both the innings which lead to Zim's lowest total against Pak in second innings. Time for Sibanda to do some self-introspection by giving way to Williams. Hamilton also needs to play freely as the burden of captaincy will be taken over by the most suited man-Taylor.

  • Julian on September 7, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    Since Zimbabwe returned to test cricket Sibanda has only crossed 50 twice in 16 innings and Hammie has only been past 50 twice in 18 innings although both times he went to a century. This is not good enough for 2 senior guys in the team who get automatic selection, for all Vusi's nice looking shots a test average of just over 20 is just not cutting the cheese and anyone who believes he would be better served batting down the order is clueless since Vusi has no idea how to play spin. You can see the fear in his eyes once the spinners are introduced the only reason he made runs batting @4 in the Logan cup is because there is only one decent spinner in Zimbabwe and he plays for the same franchise as Sibanda who is Graeme Cremer.

  • shahid on September 7, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    I don't buy it when they say Zimbabean bowlers were good to keep the scoring under 2.7 per over. It is mainly due to Pakistan style of today to block block and block irrespective of quality of bowling. Misbah and Younis, both are from this school of thought that just staying at the wicket is what matters and if you do then score comes itself. Younis told in his interview that he made Adnan Akmal to do the same.

  • ZCF on September 7, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    I don't know why there are discussions about Mutumbami&Mawoyo because, barring injury, they were always going to play both Tests whatever the case might have been. Tino needs match fitness.

    Malcolm should've been dropped long ago, but inexplicably that didn't happen. Williams excused himself so that fortuitously gave Malcolm another chance, but when Taylor was forced to be on leave, Raza stepped in.

    Several players have been dropped after doing well, some while filling in (Boycott, Azhar, Anwar, Katich, Hick, Jacques, Hodge, Gillespie etc). Raza falls in the category of standbys who impressed, and have shown promise to warrant a chance in future, but will have to step aside for the incumbent (Taylor), while Malcolm is an example of someone who after a horrible spell of form was already on his way out despite impressing, with his replacement available(Williams).

    Therefore, unless one of the seamers is unfit, meaning Chinouya steps in, the only change will be Raza out, and Taylor in.

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Zims optimism is sky high. They can't change much. Playing them was a risk and now they talking big. They took advantage of pakistan lack of practice switching formats but it should be no more.

  • Cool on September 7, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    Absolutely right Hamilton. Your team showed good heart and fight. Although Pakistan is a very weak team, but that should not take any credit away from your team. Good luck to you guys for the forthcoming test matches. With Taylor and Williams back hopefully, you will be doing better I am sure.

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    While pakistan were under pressure to perform, Zim had no pressure at all and surprised everyone. But pakistan found their rhythm phased zim out of the match. Also it was after long time pakistan were playing a test as there is mostly limited overs cricket nowadays. Still they are over optimistic, it is great but there is writing on the wall. These series against minnows don't do a lot of good to your ranking and still is pressure is on stronger sides that is why teams manipulate to have higher ranking and avoid playing minnows and associates. Taking the same pressure against a top ranking side will give more points.

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