2nd Test, Harare

Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 2013-14

At Harare, September 10-14, 2013. Zimbabwe won by 24 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe.
This was more than just a series-levelling victory for Zimbabwe. It was only their fifth win in 82 matches against the eight leading Test nations - though their third over Pakistan - and their biggest act of giant-killing since beating India on this ground in 2001, three years before the exodus of many experienced white players. They were rewarded by leapfrogging Bangladesh in the ICC Test rankings, while Pakistan slipped from fourth to sixth.

Heading into the last day it was too close to call the winner: Pakistan needed 106, Zimbabwe five wickets. Misbah-ul-Haq, who resumed on 26, held the key. The Zimbabweans told each other that, if he was there at the end, they would probably lose. Yet they were proved gloriously wrong: stranded not out for the umpteenth time, the Pakistan captain watched in dismay after he turned down Rahat Ali's quest for a single off the last ball of an over and the No. 11 was run out by a gaggle of exultant fielders. The 22-year-old Chatara emerged as the hero, capturing three wickets on a dramatic final day, when Pakistan's incoming batsmen struggled to get to grips with an underprepared pitch.

Bulawayo had been scheduled to host the match until, six days before the start, it was shifted to Harare to save around $US50,000 on travel costs and expenses. There was no pace in the strip, and cracks were widening on a length by the third morning. Misbah, though, blamed his batsmen. "We were playing shots and drives which were not there for the first three days because the ball was stopping," he said. "It was all in the batsman's mind."

The 22-year-old Chatara emerged as the hero, capturing three wickets on a dramatic final day

Taylor, returning to lead Zimbabwe, had snapped up the chance to bat first. The pitch behaved itself initially, as Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza repelled Junaid Khan's most threatening spell of the Tests with a century stand. Gutsy work from the tail, who strung together 107 for the last four wickets, would also prove vital. In the afternoon session, a stray chicken wandered on to the field and had to be chased off by a security guard.

Younis Khan, who became the fourth Pakistani - after Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf - to pass 7,000 Test runs, had to work hard alongside his captain to earn a position of 163 for three by stumps on the second day. But after they had added only 19 in 12 overs next morning, Misbah lunged desperately at Vitori's second delivery with the new ball and edged to slip. Younis, trying to pick up the pace after lunch, gave a leading edge, and Abdur Rehman was lbw next ball. It turned into a bona fide batting collapse: Pakistan lost their last six for 19. Much of the pain was caused by the left-armer Vitori who, after 19 injury-hit months out of the Test side, swung the ball from both over and round the wicket, and gave the tail nothing.

As in the First Test, Zimbabwe had taken the lead on first innings, of the kind just about big enough to make up for a fitful performance in the second. By now, the ball was regularly staying low: Pakistan's bowlers did little more than keep it tight and aim at the cracks. After the early loss of Utseya, promoted to open when Sibanda fell ill, Mawoyo and Masakadza survived on their wits to add a vital 104 for the second wicket, with Junaid unable to make the harder ball dance to his tune.

Pakistan have seldom thrived on the pressure-cooker environment of a run-chase: they had not knocked off anything over 200 since Inzamam did it three times in 2003-04. They set out on the fourth afternoon in pursuit of 264, determined to play aggressively against an inexperienced attack: of the first 100 runs, 84 came in boundaries. Khurram Manzoor was the most ruthless, hitting 11 fours in his second half-century of the match. But Mohammad Hafeez paid the price for walking out of his crease to the pace bowlers and provided a leading edge for mid-on. Chatara cleaned up Azhar Ali with a beauty that held its line, and Younis stepped too far across his stumps trying to whip Vitori, and was bowled behind his legs. Misbah was as defiant as ever, but not even he could pull this off by himself.
Man of the Match: T. L. Chatara. Man of the Series: Younis Khan.

© John Wisden & Co.