Image courtesy of: NDTV
Khan’s 200 triggered Pakistan’s inspiring comeback
Zimbabwe would have thought they had a chance to make history by beating Pakistan at home before Younis Khan broke their hearts in the second innings with a brilliant unbeaten double hundred.
Khan was well supported by captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who scored half-centuries in both innings, and spinner Saeed Ajmal, who claimed 11 wickets in the match.
Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza won the toss and elected to bowl first due to the fact that the ball “always does a bit here early in the morning”.
Masakadza was definitely right about the ball doing something as Zimbabwe ripped through Pakistan’s top order, leaving them in absolute tatters at 27/3.
However, a 93-run partnership between ul-Haq and Azhar Ali steadied the ship before ul-Haq was caught out off the bowling of Prosper Utseya for 53 off 94 balls, which included seven boundaries.
Ul-Haq’s wicket caused a domino effect to occur as Pakistan’s entire middle order collapsed.
Just as Pakistan were looking vulnerable at 182/8, Ajmal and pace bowler Junaid Khan put together a 67-run partnership to help Pakistan reach 249 before Khan was caught behind off the bowling of Tinashe Panyangara.
Ajmal followed in the very next over as he was clean bowled by Tendai Chatara for an agonising 49, which came off 65 deliveries and included six boundaries and a six.
Chatara and Panyangara both snapped up three wickets apiece, while Utseya and Shingi Masakadza picked up two wickets each.
Zimbabwe got off to a rocky start as well, losing their top three batsmen in quick succession.
But, Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza were able to steady the innings with a 127-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Waller was dismissed for 70 off 100 balls, which included 14 boundaries.
Raza was on his way back to pavilion shortly after as he was caught out off the bowling of Ajmal for 60 off 118 deliveries, which included 10 boundaries.
With Zimbabwe starting to lose wickets at regular intervals, all-rounder Elton Chigumbura kept his cool and scored 69 off 129 balls, which included eight boundaries.
Zimbabwe were eventually bowled out for 327, giving them a solid lead of 78 runs.
Ajmal wreaked havoc on the Zimbabwe batsmen as he claimed seven wickets, while Junaid Khan picked up two and Rahat Ali chipped in with one.
Facing a deficit of 78 runs, Pakistan started off in poor fashion once again as their top three batsmen were back in the pavilion with only 23 runs on the board.
A 116-run partnership between ul-Haq and Younis Khan steadied the ship until ul-Haq was dismissed for 52 off 157 deliveries, which included four boundaries.
Khan registered his century during a 118-run partnership with Adnan Akmal, who scored a half-century before being removed for 64 off 154 balls, which included eight boundaries.
Khan continued to pile on the runs as Pakistan applied more and more pressure on the Zimbabwean bowlers.
The 35-year-old finally reached his double hundred by smashing a massive six off Utseya, upon where ul-Haq decided to declare, leaving Zimbabwe 342 runs to win.
Utseya was the most successful Zimbabwe bowler with three wickets, while Chatara and Panyangara snapped up two wickets apiece and Shingi Masakadza chipped in with one.
Chasing 342 to win, Zimbabwe were in deep trouble early on as their top three batsmen were dismissed with only 19 runs on the board.
Raza managed to score 24 runs before he too was dismissed and it was the same case with Chigumbura, who smashed 28 off 35 balls.
Zimbabwe put up a limp effort as they were bowled out for just 120, thus giving Pakistan a convincing 221-run win and a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
Pakistan’s spin duo of Ajmal and Abdur Rehman picked up four wickets each, while Junaid Khan finished with two wickets.
Masakadza was disappointed to have let the game slip out of his hands, but praised Khan for his brilliant double hundred.
“The boys fought hard for three and a half days, it was only towards the end of the fourth day that things started to go away from us,” he said. “We did compete and we were ahead at one stage. Bowling them out for 250, it could have been a bigger lead for us, their last wicket had a partnership. Dont think I would change my mind at all (on the toss).”
Ul-Haq also had some kind words for Khan and stated that his team had pulled off an inspiring comeback.
“It was a match-winning innings, they won the first three and a half days, that is the help you have when you have a senior like him, he changed the game,” he said. “We need lot of improvements, played a Test after a long time, they made us work hard, we need to be on the money from the start. First two days we were left behind, we do not want to do this again and again. They are a really, really improving side.”
Khan was named the Man of the Match for his unbeaten double hundred, and said: “Whenever the team needs me and I score a hundred, I feel good. This ranks high for me. They never gave us any easy runs. It was a nice effort from them.”