Zimbabwe ends second day on 281 for 7, leading by 32 runs with Chigumbura batting on 40
Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza scored contrasting half-centuries during a fourth-wicket stand of 127 which laid the platform for Zimbabwe to take a 32-run lead by the close of the second day’s play in the first Test against Pakistan at the Harare Sports Club on Wednesday (September 4).
Replying to Pakistan’s total of 249, Zimbabwe reached 281 for 7 with Elton Chigumbura well set on 40 in the company of Shingi Masakadza, the allrounder, who was batting on two.
Waller was positive from the outset despite arriving at the crease at 68 for 3 after a double-strike from the impressive Junaid Khan, the left-arm pacer, and the first of four wickets for Saeed Ajmal, the offspinner.
Tino Mawoyo (13) and Vusi Sibanda (31) both edged Junaid to Adnan Akmal, the wicketkeeper, while Hamilton Masakadza (19), Zimbabwe’s stand-in skipper, was undone by a beauty from Ajmal which clipped the top of off stump.
Waller was prepared to leave his crease against both Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, pushing singles and disrupting the length of both spinners with frequent sweep shots. Raza, on the other hand, was content to bide his time and scored just two runs from his first 25 balls.
Waller struck 14 boundaries in his 70 from 100 deliveries before Ajmal struck with a top spinner which hurried off the outside edge into the hands of Mohammad Hafeez at slip.
Raza raised the tempo of his own game following Waller’s departure, and reached 60 from 118 balls with ten fours before an aggressive flick off his toes was held by Misbah-ul-Haq at midwicket.
Ajmal was far too smart for Richmond Mutumbami , the Zimbabwe wicketkeeper, who fell lbw for a run-a-ball 13 with three fours, and Rahat Ali made the second new ball count late in the day by removing Prosper Utseya’s middle stump.
The day started well enough for Zimbabwe, who needed just two deliveries to claim Pakistan’s final wicket without a run being added. Hopeful of a half-century and perhaps significantly more at the start of play, Ajmal lost his off stump to Tendai Chatara for 49.
Junaid and Rahat both bowled beautifully at the start of Zimbabwe’s innings and, on another day, would have been more richly rewarded. But the balance of the Pakistan attack was always a gamble without any sort of recognised third seamer, with respect to Younis Khan, who was pressed into action for four overs of very modest medium pace.
Pakistan will feel the deficit is insignificant at the moment, and it is. But Chigumbura is the cleanest ball-striker in the country and if he settles on day three and receives adequate support, a lead of close to a hundred may yet make life extremely uncomfortable for Pakistan.
The pitch started to deteriorate by the close of the second day, however, and the overwhelming feeling is that Zimbabwe made life very difficult for itself at the start of the match when it chose to bat last against Ajmal and Rehman. It will need a large lead to overcome that.