Abid, Azhar put Pakistan on top against Zimbabwe in 2nd Test

15
Harare

Centuries from Abid Ali and Azhar Ali put Pakistan in firm command of the second Test at stumps in Harare.

The pair combined for a 236-run second wicket partnership – a record at this venue – which spanned nearly the entirety of the day.

Zimbabwe found themselves toiling on a slow pitch, with the ball offering little encouragement for most of the day as the two batters played out near chanceless innings.

The arrival of the new ball ensured the hosts would have something to take back with them overnight, with three quickfire strikes from Blessing Muzarabani sending Azhar, Babar Azam and Fawad Alam back before stumps were called.

Even so, Pakistan had moved on to 268 for 4 by that time, finishing the day well in control.

The visitors opted to bat after winning the toss, with the most striking bit of news the decision to hand a debut to 36-year old Tabish Khan.

The reasons for excluding Faheem Ashraf, entering perhaps the most promising phase of a young Test career, weren’t quite satisfactorily explained, and the omission meant Pakistan’s tail was somewhat extended.

Pakistan might have been keen to ensure they don’t need extra runs from the lower order, and while Azhar and Abid have effectively guaranteed them that, it was Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava who enjoyed the better of the first hour.

As they did in the first Test, the pair gave little away by way of scoring opportunities, bogging the two openers down.

Imran Butt looked a little indecisive against deliveries around his off stump, with both bowlers working him over as the dot balls began to mount.

It was the change of pace that worked though, with Ngarava banging one in short that hustled Butt as he tried to pull over midwicket.

No timing on that shot meant he would never clear the man, and Zimbabwe had an early breakthrough.

It wasn’t until the over before drinks in a first hour that Zimbabwe dominated that the shackles began to be broken.

Azhar got Donald Tiripano off for a boundary on either side of the wicket to tick the scoreboard over, and from thereon, a touch of sloppiness seeped its way into Zimbabwe’s game.

Abid was significantly more circumspect as the former Pakistan captain Azhar taking charge of the scoring, but a loose over from Tendai Chisoro allowed the opener to get a couple of fours away too, and get himself settled. —Agencies