Tour review

Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 2013-14

Twenty20 internationals (2): Zimbabwe 0, Pakistan 2
One-day internationals (3): Zimbabwe 1, Pakistan 2
Test matches (2): Zimbabwe 1, Pakistan 1

Tendai Chatara picked up his first five-wicket haul, Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Harare, 5th day, September 14, 2013
Tendai Chatara was named Man of the Match in the final Test for his five-wicket haul © Associated Press
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Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of Zimbabwe
Teams: Pakistan | Zimbabwe

Like many things in Zimbabwe, not least life itself, this tour did not unfold as predicted. The shorter the format, supposedly, the greater chance of the home side causing an upset. Yet Zimbabwe were hammered in the two Twenty20s, won the first one-day international, and were easily at their most dangerous in the Tests, dominating much of - but losing - the First, before prevailing in an emotional nailbiter in the Second. Pakistan had arrived with several important questions, and left with them unanswered, unless one was: "Are Misbah-ul- Haq, Younis Khan and Saeed Ajmal still our best players?"

From a financial point of view, Zimbabwe Cricket - close to $US20m in debt - could not afford to host the tour; from a cricketing perspective, they could not afford not to. The players had trained for weeks under the relentless drive of hardman coach Andy Waller, and were desperate to test themselves.

If Zimbabwe were to follow the ICC's directive and become more competitive, they needed to play more regularly against Full Members, so the tour went ahead - with all expenses spared. Well, as many expenses as possible - including the players' wages, which led to the threat of strike action a week before Pakistan landed. The Zimbabweans briefly boycotted training, and formed a union - long-overdue, some argued - to demand that match fees and outstanding salaries be paid.

While every effort was made to ensure the Pakistanis remained as comfortable as possible - and they never publicly complained about the water and power cuts in their hotel - the Zimbabweans were getting by without daily allowances and with basic, but adequate, meals. Luxuries such as new practice balls weren't even considered; it was hard enough finding balls for the actual matches. And austerity meant that the Second Test was moved from Bulawayo to the Harare Sports Club: all seven matches across three formats were played at the same venue - a first in international cricket.

Even when the threat of a strike subsided, Zimbabwe's complications did not. Brendan Taylor, the captain, withdrew on the morning of the opening Test after an exhausting night at his wife's side for the birth of their son; Hamilton Masakadza assumed leadership responsibilities, and his decision-making was near-faultless. Taylor's absence was compounded by the late withdrawal of Sean Williams, probably Zimbabwe's best player of spin, who said he "wasn't in the right space" to play a Test until he received his dues. Kyle Jarvis, their quickest bowler, had already announced his retirement from international cricket in order to pursue a Kolpak career with Lancashire.

Misbah, meanwhile, was outstanding both as leader and batsman. He made light of the occasional fickleness of some of his players, and displayed an equanimity of spirit through good times and bad that would be the envy of many a captain. Yet, with two defeats chalked up against his name, even some usually restrained voices in Pakistan cricket were calling for his three-year spell in charge to end.

Match reports for

1st T20I: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Aug 23, 2013
Report | Scorecard

2nd T20I: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Aug 24, 2013
Report | Scorecard

1st ODI: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Aug 27, 2013
Report | Scorecard

2nd ODI: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Aug 29, 2013
Report | Scorecard

3rd ODI: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Aug 31, 2013
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1st Test: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Sep 3-7, 2013
Report | Scorecard

2nd Test: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Sep 10-14, 2013
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co.