Zimbabwe bowlers plunge Pakistan into trouble
Azhar Ali plays a shot in the first Test against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Tuesday. Ali made a patient, unbeaten half-century to anchor a struggling Pakistan team on the first day of the first Test.
Pakistan were floundering at 182 for eight before tailenders Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan added an aggressive 67 for the ninth wicket to enable the tourists to finish the day on 249 for nine.
Opening bowlers Tendai Chatara and Tinashe Panyangara, who went into the match with only five Test caps between them, started the Pakistan slide with some disciplined bowling at the start of the day. They were well backed up by off-spinner Prosper Utseya and medium-pacer Shingi Masakadza.
But Chatara and Panyangara were guilty of some loose bowling with the second new ball as Ajmal (49 not out) and Junaid (17) gave the Pakistan innings some respectability. Junaid was out to the fifth ball of the final over of the day when he flashed at Panyangara and was caught behind.
Azhar Ali, who made a patient 78 off 185 balls, and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (53) were the only Pakistan top-order batsmen to shine. They put on 93 for the fourth wicket.
Hamilton Masakadza, standing in for regular captain Brendan Taylor, was justified in his decision to send Pakistan in as the tourists lost their first three wickets for 27 runs inside the first hour, with both Chatara and Panyangara taking advantage of early life in the pitch.
Chatara struck first when Mohammad Hafeez was caught at second slip off a ball which lifted sharply. Panyangara followed up with the wickets of Khurram Manzoor, who went back on his stumps and was leg before wicket to a ball which cut back, and Younis Khan, who was bowled when he played forward tentatively and the ball trickled back onto his stumps.
Utseya dismissed Misbah and Asad Shafiq in quick succession during the afternoon, with both batsmen falling to ambitious shots, and Shingi Masakadza was rewarded for some accurate bowling when he took two wickets after tea, including that of Azhar, who was drawn into a drive and caught at first slip.
Taylor withdrew on the morning of the match after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child. Pakistan-born Sikandar Raza replaced him, earning his first Test cap.
The withdrawal of Taylor, Zimbabwe's leading batsmen, was the latest setback for the host nation following a pay dispute which threatened to prevent the match from taking place. The players only agreed on Monday to play following a commitment by their board to pay outstanding salaries before next week's second and final Test in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe fielded an inexperienced bowling line-up, following the retirement of Kyle Jarvis in order to pursue a county cricket career in England and Graeme Cremer's unavailability because of the pay issue. Batsman Sean Williams also withdraw because of the pay dispute.