Zimbabwe managed to score 237 runs for the loss of eight wickets at the end of the first day of the second Test match against Pakistan at the Harare Sports Club in Zimbabwe.
Winning the toss, Brendan Taylor had no hesitation in opting to bat first. However, there were widespread concerns about the unknown behaviour of an already cracked pitch, that saw only a three days break between the second Test and first one which ended on Saturday.
Pakistan played an unchanged eleven while the home team did make a couple of changes with Taylor and Bryan Vitori replacing Sikandar Raza and Shinji Masakadza.
Junaid Khan drew first blood for the visitors by sending back Tino Mawoyo, caught behind for a duck, in only the second ball of the day. The replays however revealed that the umpire Steve Davis had erred as the ball had come of the thigh pad and not the bat.
Joining Vusi Sibanda was Hamilton Masakadza as the pair endured some torrid time in the middle for the next 15 overs against the Pakistani pacemen, especially Junaid Khan. They were extremely fortunate to survive the opening burst but eventually Vusi Sibanda, batting on 14 runs, dragged one onto the stumps while attempting a pull shot of Rahat Ali.
After his partner’s dismissal, Masakadza, apparently relieved on seeing Junaid taken off the attack, decided to up the ante. He played some delightful shots of Ajmal, taking him for 24 runs off his first four overs as Zimbabwe went into lunch with the scoreboard reading 65/2.
As the post-lunch session resumed, Junaid was brought back for a second spell. Despite starting off from when he left at the end of his opening burst, the second wicket continued to elude him. Both the batsmen continued their good work, combining to put together a crucial 110-run partnership for the third wicket.
Ajmal, finally, broke the stand as Maskadaza departed edging the off-spinner to the first slip of a forward defensive stroke, after having made a 169-ball 75. Brendan Taylor, when on 51 off 128 balls, was adjudged out LBW to Abdur Rehman. He could consider himself unlucky as the impact was clearly outside the off-stump.
From 140/2, the home team lost a flurry of wickets to end the day on 237/8. Junaid Khan, finally, got the rewards for his exceptional spell of fast bowling, ending the day with a three-wicket haul.
Zimbabwe will be happy with they have managed as the odds were completely stacked against them adding to the fact that they had to encounter some really high quality fast bowling by the Pakistani pacers.