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Pak vs Zim: Abid Ali, Azhar Ali Put Pakistan on Top Against Zimbabwe


LAHORE MIRROR (Monitoring Desk)– Abid Ali and Azhar Ali shared an unbeaten 154-run partnership as Pakistan took control on the first day of the second Test against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Friday.

Pakistan were 166 for one at tea after winning the toss, with Abid on 80 not out and Azhar unbeaten on 74.

Zimbabwe started the day well, claiming the wicket of Imran Butt in the eighth over. Butt top-edged a pull to midwicket against left-arm opening bowler Richard Ngarava after scoring two off 20 balls.

But Abid and Azhar settled in on an easy-paced pitch after seeing off some good bowling by Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani, who restricted Pakistan to just 14 runs in the first 10 overs.

Abid and Azhar gradually increased the scoring rate after the opening bowlers were rested.

Neither batsman looked in trouble against steady but largely unthreatening bowling. They took the total to 72 by lunch and added a further 94 runs in 27 overs between lunch and tea.

Zimbabwe, already hit by injuries to three leading batsmen, had a new injury concern when Roy Kaia was taken off on a stretcher shortly before tea. Fielding at short leg, he was struck a heavy blow above the left knee by a pull shot from Abid.

Pakistan gave a debut to 36-year-old seam bowler Tabish Khan, who replaced all-rounder Faheem Ashraf in the only change from the side that won the first Test by an innings and 116 runs.

Zimbabwe also had a new cap in fast bowler Luke Jongwe, who shone in the recent Twenty20 series against the tourists. He replaced injured opening batsman Prince Masvaure.

Pakistan had dominated the first Test on a slow Harare pitch, with Hasan Ali mainly responsible for bowling out the home side for under 200 in both innings.

Hasan had match figures of nine for 89.

Fawad Alam hit a century for Pakistan in a solid batting performance in which the only top-order batsman to fail was skipper Babar Azam, who was out the first ball to Donald Tiripano.

But if it was a rare batting failure for Pakistan’s star, Babar had the satisfaction of becoming the first Pakistan captain to win his first three Tests in charge – a record which he will be expected to improve upon in the coming days.

“We won the first Test with great confidence and will take that momentum into the second Test,” Babar said Thursday.

“We need to play like that as we want to end the Africa tour on a high.

“Our next series is in the West Indies which will be totally different so we want to have a settled Test squad.”

Zimbabwe’s slim prospects of levelling the series suffered a further blow on Thursday when three leading batsmen were ruled out of the Test.

Opening batsman Prince Masvaure will be missing after suffering a fractured left thumb while fielding in the first Test.

The experienced duo of Sean Williams and Craig Ervine will again be absent, having failed to recover fully from injuries that kept them out of the opener.

Brendan Taylor will again stand in as captain in place of Williams.

Zimbabwe Cricket announced in a statement that Wesley Madhevere had been added to the squad, while the uncapped Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who was added as cover for the first Test, had been retained.

Madhevere, 20, has shown promise in white-ball internationals but failed to score in all three innings in his debut Test series against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi in March.