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Firdose Moonda in Harare
September 10, 2013
Junaid Khan's opening spell in the second Test was described as "one of the best I have faced," by Zimbabwe's No.3 Hamilton Masakadza, who top-scored with 75 on the first day. Masakadza began his innings after only two deliveries had been bowled and faced 19 balls in Junaid's first seven overs. He said that spell had made tricky batting conditions more difficult.
"He [Junaid] was much harder to face today than he has been so far in the series," Masakadza said. "In the one-dayers, he actually bowled quite a few bad balls, which did not make him that difficult to face, and then in the first Test we knew what he was going to do. He took the ball away from the right-hander and we were prepared for that, even though it was still a challenge to actually face him. But today he was also getting the ball to come back in to us, which made it really tough."
Junaid made the batsmen play at 26 of his first 30 deliveries by ensuring they were in two minds about whether it would be safe to leave the ball. The first run he conceded was via an edge from Masakadza and then there was a a mis-hit from Sibanda. Only after he had bowled 29 balls was there a confident stroke played against him.
Masakadza said he and Sibanda could only hope to see Junaid off. "When you don't know what he is going to do, you have to make up your mind early about whether you're going to play or not. And if you decide not to, you have to hope it misses you," he said. Junaid found Masakadza's edge twice but neither proved too dangerous, and after the batsman had survived the tough period, he said that batting became easier.
Towards the end of the day, however, there was evidence that the afternoon session on day one might have been the best for batting. A few deliveries had already begun to keep low, notably the one from Abdur Rehman that bowled Elton Chigumbura. The crack outside the right-handers' off stump on the south end of the ground threatened to cause more problems.
Masakadza expected the pitch to deteriorate quickly from here on. "You can already see it starting to play up and by the afternoon of day two and early day three, it's going to be very difficult for batting."
For that reason, he though a first-innings score of over 250 will end up being "very good." Besides turn, the unpredictable bounce will also become a factor, which could make Junaid more dangerous the next time Zimbabwe bat, although he hoped the home bowlers would have their say first.
The pitch had only two-and-a-half days of preparation after the first Test ended on Saturday and both captains had expressed their concern over how it would hold up. If Masakadza is correct, it will not last for much longer.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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