Pakistan enjoy a day of carefree batting in Harare
A laid-back Pakistan team enjoyed a day of carefree batting practice at Country Club, the CFX Academy headquarters in the eastern suburbs of Harare, finishing the day with 352 on the board for the loss of five wickets. With one unfortunate exception, all the leading batsmen enjoyed their meal but nobody made a pig of himself.
The pitch was flat, although it had a little pace, and the bowling not too testing; none of Zimbabwe's young hopefuls among the bowlers was able to trouble the batsmen or press a claim for a Test berth. Saleem Elahi (49) and Taufeeq Umar (86) enjoyed an opening stand of 127, before getting out and allowing two even better innings from Younis Khan (84) and a slim-looking Inzamam-ul-Haq (63).
Inzamam-ul-Haq, scourge of Zimbabwe's bowlers on their first tour here in 1994/95, was the master, toying with the bowlers for 63 off 62 balls before he decided he had had enough. Younis Khan looked to be heading for a century but was well caught at long leg by Nkala running in.
The only batsman to miss out was Yousuf Youhana (1), ironically the one most in need of practice. He fell victim to cricket's most unfair law, that which allows a non-striker doing his job properly to be fortuitously run out by an accidental deflection off the bowler. A straight drive from Younis and a boot from Blessing Mahwire, whose intention was merely to stop the ball, did the trick for the luckless Youhana, the man who played so many vital innings for Pakistan when they last toured Zimbabwe in 1997/98.
Hasan Raza, officially the world's youngest Test cricketer since he made his debut against Zimbabwe six years ago at the age of 14, finished the day unbeaten with 32, and Shahid Afridi with 21. Pakistan might well decide to bat on tomorrow to give them more sustenance.