November 5, 2002

Pakistan dominate Zimbabwe A in Harare

Nobody expects a result in a three-day match involving a touring team on a benign pitch, so unsurprisingly the first-innings issue was far from settled at the end of the second day of the match between Zimbabwe and the Pakistanis. The tourists declared at 456 for six, while Zimbabwe A finished the day on 200 for five. The tourists have already said they do not intend to enforce the follow-on if given the chance, as they want to give Yousuf Youhana time in the middle.

The day began with the tourists, 352 for five overnight, hammering a further 104 runs off 12 overs before declaring. Shahid Afridi as expected was part of the mayhem before being caught off Campbell Macmillan for 49 (the bowler's six overs of the morning yielding 58 runs), while Hasan Raza more calmly made his way to 64 not out and reserve wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal enjoyed an unbeaten innings of 43. Apart from Youhana, all of the other seven Pakistani batsmen to reach the crease passed 40.

Shoaib Akhtar never really attempted full pace on this pitch in a warm-up match, so the home batsmen did not have too many problems handling him and his two accomplices, the Mohammads Zahid and Sami, although Sami was to finish the day with three wickets. Dion Ebrahim made 14 of an opening stand of 54 with the more aggressive Mark Vermeulen (43); he has struggled for runs since his 182 in the opening Logan Cup match a month ago. Gavin Rennie (48) and Guy Whittall (67 not out at the close) shared a stand of 99, with Whittall, recently back after a leg injury, beginning in a flurry of fine strokes before settling down to bat more solidly.

Stuart Matsikenyeri was bowled first ball by Sami, giving ammunition to those who query his temperament, while Tatenda Taibu scored only six before being caught at the wicket off the same bowler. Play finished early due to bad light on a muggy and overcast afternoon, not the best public relations exercise in front of an enthusiastic crowd of perhaps 200 or more. But had the Pakistanis been reasonably eager to play, they would have used their spinners at this time rather than their fastest bowlers. Shahid Afridi had bowled well, taking the wicket of Ebrahim, despite giving away a few expensive overs.

The sightscreens on this ground are an egg-shell blue instead of the usual white. Whittall said the glare was less in the sun, but it was harder to sight the ball when the light was poor.