Second Test Match


Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debuts: Hasan Raza, Mohammad Hussain; E. Matambanadzo, M. Mbangwa.

Despite the margin of defeat, Zimbabwe competed bravely until the third morning. The match finished that afternoon, with a full house after the gates were thrown open. But it was effectively settled on the opening morning, when Zimbabwe lost their top five in the first 18 overs as Wasim Akram bowled an inspirational spell.

The attention centred on Pakistan's newest batsman, Hasan Raza, who was hailed as the youngest ever Test player. He was supposedly 14 years and 227 days at the start, and scored a composed 27. Later, the Pakistan board, relying on radiology tests, said that he was up to a year older; it was unclear why they had delayed releasing their information. Still, given that the previously recognized record was Mushtaq Mohammad's 15 years and 124 days, Raza's claim had yet to be disproved.

Unlike at Sheikhpura, conditions were very much to the fast bowlers' liking: the pitch, unusually well-grassed, offered bounce and some pace; there was movement off the seam and the Grays ball swung when new and reverse swung later. Early moisture in the pitch helped the pace bowlers, and the spinners - including another debutant, left-armer Mohammad Hussain - obtained startling first-day turn.

It was a good toss to lose: Wasim admitted that he too would have batted. Swinging and seaming it both ways at pace, he was a fearsome proposition. Five of his six first-innings victims were bowled. Zimbabwe, however, batted poorly, apart from Andy Flower, who resisted for three hours to be last out, before tea.

Fielding a highly inexperienced attack, Zimbabwe did creditably to restrict Pakistan to 267. Their opening bowlers, Everton Matambanadzo and Mpumelelo Mbangwa, both 20, became only the second and third black Zimbabweans to win Test caps (the first, Olonga, had flown home with a groin strain). Both bowled medium-fast out-swingers vigorously, if not always with full control. Saeed Anwar played some exhilarating shots in an attacking 81 with 16 fours. Like several of his colleagues, he got himself out. But, thanks to an aggressive 58 from Moin Khan, Pakistan doubled Zimbabwe's meager total.

A two-day finish looked possible when both Zimbabwean openers fell within two overs of resuming, though Grant Flower suffered a bad decision. A brilliant counter-attack from Houghton, who added 113 in just 27 overs with Campbell, gave them an outside chance. But Houghton was out first ball next day and, in the next over, Campbell was given out caught behind off his pad, making defeat all but inevitable. Whittall got another bad decision and the last seven wickets fell in 21.4 overs. Wasim took four more to complete his fourth ten-wicket haul in Tests and confirm his role as the dominant figure of the series.

Man of the Match: Wasim Akram. Man of the Series: Wasim Akram.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 114-3 (Saeed Anwar 69*, Hasan Raza 20*); Second day, Zimbabwe 136-3 (D. L. Houghton 73*, A. D. R. Campbell 52*).

© John Wisden & Co