ZIMBABWE captain Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza scored half centuries to lead a fightback by the home side, but Pakistan still finished the opening day of the second Test at Harare Sports Club yesterday on top after restricting the home side to a low first innings score.
The home side reached stumps on 237 for eight after 90 overs with Prosper Utseya unbeaten on 14, while Tendai Chatara was yet to get off the mark.
Pakistan paceman Junaid Khan was superb for the tourists as he finished with three wickets for 55 runs while Rahat Ali and spinner Abdur Rehman took two wickets apiece.
After losing the openers early, Taylor, who had won the toss and elected to bat first, scored 52 runs while Masakadza top-scored with 75 runs as they shared a third wicket partnership stand of 110 runs.
Although the pair could not convert their starts into a bigger score, their contribution proved to be vital in ensuring Zimbabwe finished day one with a decent score on the board.
Taylor’s decision to bat first seemed to backfire almost immediately as Zimbabwe lost opener Tino Mawoyo from the second delivery of the day for a duck.
Mawoyo, who has struggled for runs in the series was, however, unlucky to be given out caught behind as replays showed that Junaid Khan’s in swinging delivery had come off his thigh pad.
Zimbabwe found it tough going in the early overs as the Pakistan seamers extracted good movement off the track which made it very hard for the openers to get bat on ball. So hard was it to score runs that Sibanda and Masakadza took four overs before Zimbabwe could get off the mark, while also needing a massive 16 overs to get past the 30-run mark.
The pressure started to tell when Sibanda (14) dragged Rahat Ali onto his stumps while going for an aggressive pull shot to leave the home side in trouble on 31 for two.
Zimbabwe desperately needed a composed innings from their senior batsmen as they got just that as Masakadza and Taylor rebuild the innings with a 110-run partnership for the third wicket.
Masakadza hit nine fours and a six in his fourth career half century which came from 169 balls before edging a tossed up Saeed Ajmal delivery straight to first slip where Mohammad Hafeez held on to the catch after diving to his right.
Taylor also reached a half century as he shared 31 runs for the fourth wicket partnership with Waller before they both fell in quick succession as Zimbabwe went on to lose the next five wickets for 62 runs.
Chigumbura faced 60 balls for his 14 before he was castled by Rehman just before Richmond Mutumbami had edged Khan to the wicketkeeper for just eight runs.
The home side needed a late fightback from their bowlers as Tinashe Panyangara scored 24 runs from 28 to ensure Zimbabwe got past 200.
Masakadza said they were disappointed to lose too many wickets.
“We hoped to lose two or three wickets less but the score is fine and we don’t really mind that much especially looking at the way they (Pakistan) bowled.
I think we had two runs on the board after eight overs. It was testament of how well they bowled and how the wicket was playing,” said Masakadza.