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Pakistan take advantage of missed chances in Bulawayo

As Zimbabwe's bowling improved, so their fielding declined. A number of missed chances, together with fumbles in the field, during the day allowed Pakistan to take a probably decisive grip on the Second Test match at Queens Sports Club. They finished the day with 295 for five, a lead of 117 over Zimbabwe.

The overnight batsmen, Taufeeq Umar and Saleem Elahi, soon made clear their intention of dominating the Zimbabwe bowling. Andy Blignaut was driven powerfully when he overpitched; Raymond Price, who opened with him, was punished whenever he bowled short.

Henry Olonga replaced Blignaut, and despite his inaccuracy he did cause the batsmen occasional problems. Still, it came as a surprise when Saleem (27) tried to drive on the off side and dragged a delivery on to his stumps. Pakistan were 63 for one. In Olonga's next over, Taufeeq (34) went on an uncharacteristically wild swipe outside his off stump and the keeper picked up the catch.

Inzamam-ul-Haq looked slightly reckless in his approach, hitting two powerful boundaries but also missing a couple of big hits completely. Then he tried an ambitious pull as Price came over the wicket, and missed to be bowled off stump for 11. All three wickets thus far could be said to be unforced errors.

Zimbabwe now began to bowl with new confidence and purpose, while Pakistan similarly seemed to lose theirs. Younis Khan and Yousuf Youhana played with caution and were still there at lunch.

The afternoon session may well prove the most decisive in this match. Zimbabwe missed the chance of another wicket soon after lunch, as there was a hopeless mix-up in mid-pitch, only for the ball to be misfielded by substitute Blessing Mahwire, who was replacing Mark Vermeulen who dislocated a finger fielding during the morning. Youhana was nearly bowled by Price when he took an unwise swing at the ball, which missed his stumps by the traditional coat of varnish.

After that they settled down to patient accumulation. There were still bad balls, but on the whole the Zimbabwean bowlers were more accurate than they were in Harare. A pity this was effectively countered by poorer catching and ground fielding. Youhana slowly played his way back to form, unveiling some classical smooth strokes. Younis on 46 was dropped at slip by Alistair Campbell, a difficult catch, as soon as Grant Flower came on to bowl, and Zimbabwe were starting to pay for not taking their chances.

Younis reached fifty, closely followed by Yousuf, who then survived a very good stumping attempt by Tatenda Taibu, the final result being too close for the third umpire to call, and so the benefit of the doubt went to the batsman. Luck had not gone Zimbabwe's way during the afternoon, but neither had they made their own luck.

Zimbabwe took the second new ball at 195 for three, indicative of the slow Pakistan scoring rate. The ball was not coming on to the bat very sweetly, but Zimbabwe had also bowled quite accurately. Blignaut had a very close lbw decision against Youhana turned down by umpire Venkat, but instead he got Younis (52), who walked right in front of a straight ball. Pakistan were 209 for four, after a partnership of 127.

Soon after that Blignaut left the field with a hamstring problem, giving Andy Flower the chance to complete the over, another two balls. Yousuf hit his first ball for four, but he bowls the slow-medium type of delivery that Chris Harris bowls and batsmen in one-day cricket seem to find so difficult to hit. Zimbabwe then missed another chance: Yousuf on 88 skyed a catch to midoff where the culprit was again the unfortunate Mahwire.

Olonga then made one: he got a ball to move in off the pitch to hit the off stump of Hasan Raza (4), who unwisely shouldered arms; 225 for five. Kamran Akmal showed his customary aggression from the start, but Yousuf looked rather nervy as he approached his tenth Test century, twice narrowly escaping being run out. It finally took him 198 balls, and he was obliged to the inadequacies of Zimbabwe's fielders.

He celebrated with another dropped catch, low at short cover. Zimbabwe did not get another, and could face another long, hot day in the field tomorrow when Youhana will resume on 116 and Kamran on 27.