Image courtesy of: India Times
Chatara’s heroics in the second innings snapped Zimbabwe’s 12-year winless streak
Zimbabwe’s last Test win came all the way back in 2001 against Bangladesh, but they managed to end their 12-year drought as they recorded a historic 24-run win over Pakistan to leave the Test series drawn at one game apiece.
Some superb batting by Hamilton Masakadza in both innings and a five-wicket haul by pace bowler Brian Vitori in the first innings and Tendai Chatara in the second innings ensured Zimbabwe gave their fans something to cheer about after a long stretch of disappointments.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor won the toss and elected to bat first since the pitch only had three days worth of preparation from the conclusion of the first Test, which Pakistan won by 221 runs.
However, his decision looked to be the wrong one as opening batsman Tino Mawoyo was caught behind off the second ball of the match.
Mawoyo’s opening partner Vusi Sibanda followed soon after as he was clean bowled by Rahat Ali for only 14 runs.
Just as Zimbabwe looked to be on the verge of yet another collapse, Taylor and Masakadza came to the rescue with a 110-run partnership, during which Masakadza recorded his half-century, before he was dismissed for 75 off 169 balls, which included nine boundaries and a six.
Taylor also managed to cross the half-century mark before he was lbw off the bowling of Abdur Rehman for 51 off 128 deliveries, which included six boundaries.
Taylor’s dismissal led to a flurry of wickets and if it hadn’t been for some late entertainment by the lower order batsmen, Zimbabwe would have never reached 294 before being bowled out.
Pakistan pace bowler Junaid Khan enjoyed the most success with four wickets, while Rehman picked up three wickets, Ali snapped up two and Saeed Ajmal chipped in with one.
Trailing by 294 runs, Pakistan got off to a rocky start as opener Mohammad Hafeez was dismissed for 22 runs off the bowling of Vitori.
Azhar Ali followed soon after as he was given out lbw for just seven runs.
Khurram Manzoor was able to record a half-century before being run out shortly after for 51 off 128 balls, which included nine boundaries.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and veteran batsman Younis Khan steadied the innings with a 86-run partnership, during which Khan brought up his own half-century, before ul-Haq was caught out for 33.
Khan managed to make 77 off 223 deliveries, which included nine boundaries before he was on his way back to the pavilion.
After Khan’s departure, Pakistan’s middle and lower order batsmen absolutely crumbled under the rejuvenated Zimbabwe bowling attack.
Pakistan were eventually bowled out for 230, giving Zimbabwe a lead of 64 runs.
Vitori was the pick of Zimbabwe’s bowlers with a five-wicket haul, while Tinashe Panyangara picked up three wickets and Chatara chipped in with one.
With a lead of 64 runs in hand, Zimbabwe once again failed to get off to a good start as Prosper Utseya, who was promoted up the batting order, was dismissed for just five runs.
However, a 104-run partnership by Mawoyo and Masakadza, during which Mawoyo registered his half-century, put Zimbabwe in the drivers seat until Mawoyo was removed by Rehman for 58 off 165 deliveries, which included seven boundaries.
Masakadza was the only other Zimbabwean batsman to make a decent contribution as he was dismissed for an agonising 44, which came off 120 balls and included six boundaries.
Zimbabwe ended up being bowled out for a disappointing 199, giving Pakistan a target of 264 to whitewash Zimbabwe 2-0.
Ali destroyed the Zimbabwe batting line-up with a five-wicket haul, while Ajmal and Rehman both snapped up two wickets apiece and Khan picked up one wicket.
Chasing 264 to win, Pakistan got off to a poor start once again as Hafeez could only muster 16 runs before being caught out off the bowling of Chatara.
Hafeez’s opening partner Manzoor was able to record yet another half-century before being dismissed for 54 off 66 balls, which included 11 boundaries.
With Pakistan starting to lose wickets at regular intervals, ul-Haq stood stall and took the attack to Zimbabwe and soon brought up his half-century.
However, despite finishing unbeaten on 79, ul-Haq could only watch on in utter despair as Zimbabwe bowled out the rest of his team and celebrated their historic win.
Ul-Haq’s 79 had come off 181 deliveries and included nine boundaries.
Chatara was the hero of the match as he registered a five-wicket haul, while Utseya picked up two wickets and Vitori and Panyangara both chipped in with one wicket each.
As a result of their loss, Pakistan dropped from fourth to sixth on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test team rankings and Zimbabwe shot up to ninth place.
Ul-Haq praised his bowlers for putting up a brilliant fight, but nonetheless congratulated Zimbabwe on their impressive win.
“Zimbabwe really deserve that victory, they played very well in both the Tests and maintained pressure throughout the game,” he said. “If I was going to get something in my area, I was just thinking of making runs. Our bowlers did really well in these conditions but our batting is a bit of a worry and we need a bit of work there. We needed big efforts like what Younis Khan did in the first Test.”
Taylor was ecstatic with the win and having moved above Bangladesh on the ICC rankings.
“Beating a world-class team is a great feeling,” he said. “We haven’t had a bowling coach in six months so all the credit goes to the bowlers. There’s still room for improvement. We wanted to give our seamers a bit of a break before the new ball. Test cricket is about winning sessions and we might have done that. After the first Test, it’s great to come back after a big loss and credit goes to all our players.”
Chatara for named the Man of the Match for his outstanding five-wicket haul in the second innings that sealed the deal for Zimbabwe.
“Feels nice,” he said with a big smile on his face. “After we didn’t get a great start, I just told myself to hit the right line and lengths when I got the ball.”
Khan was named the Man of the Series for scoring 309 runs, which included an unforgettable double hundred, at an incredible average of 103.
“All credit goes to Zimbabwe, especially the management and the captain,” he said. “A lot of things have been going wrong for them, especially off the field. Misbah is a cool customer but unfortunately he didn’t have enough support. I wish I had spent more time at the crease but all credit goes to their bowlers who put their heart into the game.”