Spinners, Junaid rout Zimbabwe

HARARE — The probability of Zimbabwe holding out for a draw was extinguished early on the final morning, not by the expected threat Saeed Ajmal, but by Junaid Khan and Abdur Rehman. On a wearing pitch with turn and uneven bounce, Zimbabwe’s batsmen were simply ill equipped to combat a situation where only longevity at the crease, and not runs, mattered.

Report by Cricinfo

Pakistan 249 (Azhar Ali 78, Misbah 53) and 419 for 9 dec (Younis 200*, Akmal 64) beat Zimbabwe 327 (Waller 70, Chigumbura 69, Raza 60, Ajmal 7-95) and 120 (Ajmal 4-23, Rehman 4-36) by 221 runs

Ajmal returned for a second spell late in the first session and cut through the tail, striking twice in an over to complete the fourth ten-wicket haul of his Test career. Pakistan took the nine wickets they needed during an extended session, and while they were always favourites to close out this contest, they might have expected Zimbabwe to be less feeble.

With the luxury of runs, Misbah-ul-Haq deployed his catchers: three slips and a gully for Junaid, and a slip, a leg gully, a forward short leg and a short midwicket for Ajmal. As Zimbabwe’s batsmen prodded tentatively off front foot and back, the cries from these men grew louder.

Junaid ensured Pakistan’s wait for success was brief. In his first over, he delivered one that angled into the right-hander from round the wicket but the ball did not bounce as much as Hamilton Masakadza thought it would from short of a length. He held his wrists around waist height, playing no shot, and the ball crashed into the bat near the gloves and popped up to gully. In his next over, Junaid trapped Vusi Sibanda lbw with one that kept lower. Zimbabwe were 19 for 3 before the coffee had cooled.

Zimbabwe’s batsmen had a torrid time against Junaid. He sprinted in from round the wicket, targeting the stumps with the angle, and got several deliveries to beat the bat by straightening or seaming away from the right-handers. He did not take another wicket, though.

Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza had begun to stitch a partnership together when Misbah replaced Ajmal with Abdur Rehman in the first over after the drinks break. Waller drove Rehman’s second ball to the straight boundary and then swept the third in the air and was caught at square leg.

Zimbabwe’s middle-order batsmen got starts and they played shots but they could not last. Raza, another relatively set batsman, was caught at short leg, giving Rehman his second wicket and reducing Zimbabwe to 58 for 5.

Elton Chigumbura was Zimbabwe’s last significant line of defence, and he found the boundary occasionally through the sparely populated outfield. His last four came by pushing hard at a flatter ball from Rehman and edging past first slip. Rehman bowled a similar delivery next ball but slowed his pace, Chigumbura pushed forward again and this time the edge went straight to slip.

Ajmal’s twin strikes came just before the scheduled lunch break, which prompted the umpires to extend the session by 15 minutes. It was only a matter of time. Towards the end of that extension, Rehman darted a flat one into Tinashe Panyangara’s pads.

With Zimbabwe nine down, the umpires kept the players on for a little longer. Ajmal had the final word, taking his 11th wicket to give Pakistan their first Test win since February 2012, and Dav Whatmore’s maiden victory as their coach.

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