Late reward for Pakistan pressure
Even though Zimbabwe dominated most parts of the third day by taking a 64-run lead and then building on it, three wickets in the last nine balls of the day brought the Pakistanis back and has given both the sides chances of winning the Test. Pakistan's bowling coach, Mohammad Akram, said they were confident of getting a few wickets by keeping their line and lengths tight to build the pressure.
"Our plan was to keep it tight," he said. "We knew that if we did that, at some point the door would open and then we could push through it."
Zimbabwe had taken a first-innings lead in the first Test too but they had to bat last which put added pressure on them when they were set a target of 342 with a little more than a day left. This time, Pakistan will be batting last and are already 185 runs behind with six Zimbabwe wickets remaining. The pitch, Akram said, has not been causing difficulty till now and said it is still a "good wicket" for both bowlers and batsmen.
"So far the pitch has played well," he said. "Everyone was thinking there would be too many snakes in it but it has been good for batting, once you are in. Stroke-making was not easy but there is still something in it for batsmen and bowlers and it's been a good wicket."
Tinashe Panyangara also said the pitch had not deteriorated much so far but hoped that it would on the last two days. "I hope so," Panyangara said with a laugh when asked if he thought the pitch would get worse. "Every day we've thought it would get worse and it hasn't really. But maybe on the final two days it will. It has been playing up a bit but I wouldn't say it's got much worse so far."
Just like Pakistan who had plans of bowling tight, Panyangara said they had planned to bowl around the off stump to keep Pakistan's scoring rate down. Pakistan had started the day at 163 for 3 but collapsed to 230 after lunch, losing their last six wickets for 19 runs. Brian Vitori, who had not been picked for the first Test, claimed the last three wickets in two consecutive overs to take his first five-for in only his fourth Test.
"Our plan was to stay around off stump all the time and keep the run-scoring down," Panyangara said. "If you look at the run-scoring especially after lunch, they never scored at more than three an over. We knew if we did that right, we would get wickets."
Despite Pakistan's lower-order collapse, Panyangara said they would need "a day at the least " to bowl Pakistan out in the fourth innings after setting them a target. With six wickets in hand, he said they did not have any target in mind and would try to get "as many as possible" before bowling in the fourth innings.