Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Harare, 4th day September 13, 2013

Harare promises thrilling final day


Pakistan 230 and 158 for 5 (Manzoor 54, Chatara 2-29, Usteya 2-40) need another 106 to beat Zimbabwe 294 and 199 (Mawoyo 58, Rahat 5-52)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

This Test has been played with pay strife and load shedding as the sightscreens, but Zimbabwe were five wickets short of lifting that gloom momentarily. Misbah-ul-Haq stood between them and only their fifth Test win against teams other than Bangladesh, their first since 2001. It seemed they had given up a significant bit of their advantage as they lost their last six wickets for 78 and as the Pakistan openers attacked them for quick early runs, but Tendai Chatara and Prosper Utseya pulled Pakistan back with timely strikes.

Pakistan themselves were chasing a bit of a landmark: a win here will be their third-highest successful chase, and their first of a 200-run target in close to last 10 years. Having fallen behind over the first three days, Pakistan tried the classical big-team trick: bowl tight and let the opposition batsmen make the mistake, and try to demoralise them when they bowl.

The first part worked well. Rahat Ali led a bowling unit that aimed for the cracks as opposed to trying anything spectacular. The scoring stalled with in-and-out fields in place. Three of the six Zimbabweans to be dismissed today fell to poor shots. But when Pakistan's batsmen tried to dominate the bowlers, though, they couldn't keep it up for long enough. Chatara struck the first blows with wickets of Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali, and Utseya accounted for the dangerous Khurram Manzoor for 54, and Asad Shafiq.

That batting freely would be difficult was evident for the morning session. Rahat and Abdur Rehman began with the simple plan of landing the ball near the crack that runs down the middle of the pitch. The ball would jag either side after hitting the crack, and a wicket always looked around the corner. Rahat first got Vusi Sibanda, who batted at No. 6 because he was unwell on the third day.

The pressure - the two bowled the first 12.4 overs of the day for just 25 runs - was palpable. When Saeed Ajmal came on to bowl, Malcolm Waller saw release in a short and wide ball, but failed to keep it down and gave point the catch. Junaid Khan, the other change, hit the crack even more regularly. Once when he did, the ball moved away from Elton Chigumbura, beating his outside edge. From a similar area, the next ball didn't move, but the muscle memory had already drawn Chigumbura across, and the edge was taken.

The chaos continued after lunch when Brendan Taylor ended his fighting innings with a limp drive at a full and wide delivery. The lead hadn't yet reached 250. Richmond Mutumbani now began to attack, scoring 21 off the 25 balls he faced after Taylor got out. Those crucial runs added, he got a leading edge to Ajmal, followed shortly by a flailing pull from Tendai Chatara.

Chatara was much more effective when it came to bowling. The Pakistan openers had somewhat rattled the Zimbabwe bowlers a bit as they began to walk at them and drive prodigiously. By the end of the seventh over, they had reached 29. Only one of those 29 was run. Taylor then called on Chatara. Hafeez continued to walk down the wicket. His premeditation consumed him. First he pulled a ball he should have been cutting. If this one fell short of mid-on, the next early walk down the wicket resulted in a leading edge that was swallowed by mid-on. It was followed up by a beauty to Azhar, a length ball that held its line in front of off, squaring the batsman up and hitting the off stump.

All this didn't deter the first-innings half-centurion, Manzoor, who remained positive and kept attacking loose deliveries. The attitude seemed to rub onto Younis Khan too: they added they added 44 in 11 overs. Zimbabwe refused to let up, though. Utseya, despite being hit for two fours by Manzoor, troubled him with the dip he got. Soon after Manzoor reached his second fifty of the match, he fell to the dip. He pushed forward to defend, but the ball dropped shorter than he expected, and popped up for a bat-pad catch.

Younis soon moved too far across to a straight delivery from Brian Vitori, losing his leg stump. Between them, the top four hit 21 boundaries in 99 runs. Attacking the inexperienced bowlers seemed something that was discussed beforehand. With four wickets down for 100, though, Misbah went back to the way he has become used to. For company was Asad Shafiq. They defended and defended, but they - Shafiq in particular - never really looked comfortable. Vitori especially troubled him from round the stumps, a wide angle that has got him more than once in this series.

Shafiq's end, though, came to Utseya when he went back to cut a ball that wasn't short enough, and edged it through to Mutumbani. Misbah and Adnan Akmal saw off the remaining 9.4 overs without further incident, making sure neither team could sleep more comfortably than the other.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on September 14, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Pakistan have lost to Zim previously when they had Saeed Anwar, Inzi, Malik, Rashid , Basit, waqar , Waseem and Mushtaq in the Team, this Team is nothing comparing to that one, I still believe as long as Misbah is there, Pakistan has chance to Win. It's easy to make comments from your living room while sitting on sofa, Show some respect , this guy plays good in every single match wether it's ODI and T20, Pakistan stopped producing Great players since Afridi was introduced to international cricket, Younis and Yousaf came to lime light because they followed Miandad and Inzi, Now days almost every single guy wants to be Afridi. Pakistan don't need PPL in T20, they could introduce PPL50/50. That might help Pak youngsters and would be ideal for preparation of WC2015.

  • ESPN on September 14, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Misbah should keep the score board ticking over because if he gets out it will be curtains for Pakistan. In case the chase is narrowed down by Misbah, there is some chance that tail Enders can make the remaining runs.So, Misbah , please keep the score board moving, an odd boundary here n there is very much required.

  • Yasir on September 14, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Why am i alive to see this day..Ohh God

  • Syed Murtaza on September 14, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Still chance for PAK to win this match as Misbah is the big obstacle for ZIM victory, ZIM is doing full efforts to win, but we can't say anything as we know that many times PAK has changed the history.

  • Android on September 14, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    seen so many bad comments about Misbah recently. tuk tuk, slow player.... he is your only good player everyone else throws away their wickets, so he can't attack and play dominantly he has to lead the team and consolidate. Easy for you to say he's crap, he's the only thing left in Pakistani cricket

  • romi on September 14, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    akmal gone and misbah not in a mood to score. He just blocks n blocks. One gud delivery and pak will create history...

  • Ali on September 14, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    As long as Misbah is there, I would fancy Pakistan to win.

  • Naveed on September 14, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    In my opinion Zim has a little upperhand. This all depends on how Misbah and Adnan plays in the the morning. The match is 60-40 in Zim favour.

  • saad on September 14, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    @ texan bue completely agree with you.i think azhar can open the innings for pakistan and hafeez and asad should be replaced by umar amin and umar akmal.khuram manzoor should be given another chance but if he doesnt perform selecttaufeeq for him

  • Esmail on September 14, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    Hats off to the Zimbabweans for such a commendable effort. Throughout this series they have put in more than a 100% effort and have fought tooth and nail against a quality opposition. Never has there been a point in this series where they have lacked the fight and the hunger to compete and win a test match for their country. Infact Zimbabwe have played brilliant cricket, even better cricket than Pakistan at times and as a result they have been on top for most of this series. If Zimbabwe do go on to seal victory it will be a hard fought and a well deserved win. Despite the off field 'not being paid' saga they have performed to their potential and have won my respect by displaying great qualities of sportsmanship and nationalism. On the other hand this is a tricky situation for Pakistan and a golden opportunity for Misbah to see this through to the end and shut out his critics for good. In all this has been a fascinating test series hopefully the final day will be another cracker.