In an ideal scenario, the cricketing history involving Pakistan and Zimbabwe would be filled with one-sided victories in favor of the former. Pakistan have won World Cups, enjoyed a cherished record in Test cricket - having played its first five-day game in 1952 - and seen some of the greatest and most gifted players in the sport represent the nation over the years.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, became a Test playing nation in 1992. They had a golden run in the late 1990s, but never quite made it to the highest level. Yet, contests between the two sides have always been hard-fought.
For instance, take the second T20I in the recently concluded series between the two nations. Despite scoring a mere 119 runs batting first, Zimbabwe managed to beat Pakistan. The African country also defeated their Asian opposition against all odds in an ODI, via the Super Over, last year.
Such results have not been limited to the shorter formats. Even in Test cricket, there have been several interesting contests between the two. As we approach a two-match Test series between Zimbabwe and Pakistan, let us revisit three such gripping encounters between the two nations.
#1 Zimbabwe vs Pakistan, Harare, 1998
The first Test between the two teams at Bulawayo ended in a tense draw, with Pakistan managing to hold on in the final two sessions of play on Day 5.
Alistair Campbell elected to bat first in the second Test in Harare and the hosts were largely able to justify the call by scoring 277 in their first innings. In response, Pakistan had a shaky start and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
At 187/8, a crucial lead seemed inevitable for Zimbabwe. However, Mohammad Wasim and Mushtaq Ahmed stitched together a 147-run partnership to ensure that Pakistan gained a lead.
In Zimbabwe's second innings, Azhar Mahmood, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Mushtaq Ahmed struck at regular intervals to ensure that the African country didn't run away with the game.
Chasing 192 for victory, Pakistan had a few early hiccups, especially after they lost the set Saeed Anwar. But the visitors were largely able to sail through on the back of a 52 by Yousuf Youhana (later Mohammad Yousuf). Still, Zimbabwe would regard the three-wicket loss as a missed opportunity.
#2 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe, Peshawar, 1998
Even Zimbabwe wouldn't have dreamt of avenging the Harare loss in their very next game against Pakistan.
In what would prove to be the first overseas Test win for Zimbabwe, the visitors decided to bowl first on a grassy wicket. Pakistan found themselves in the line of fire and lost wickets at regular intervals. However, a 118-run partnership between Ijaz Ahmed and Yousuf Youhana helped the hosts post 296.
Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis then produced a swing bowling masterclass to dismantle Zimbabwe in their first innings. Neil Johnson's heroic 107 off just 117 balls was Zimbabwe's only saving grace.
Pakistan, with a 58-run lead, held the advantage going into the 2nd innings. However, Henry Olonga and Pommie Mbangwa ripped apart the Pakistan batting line-up to restrict them to just 103.
A sensible knock of 73 by Murray Goodwin ensured that Zimbabwe won the Test.
#3 Zimbabwe vs Pakistan, Harare, 2013
Much had changed when Pakistan toured Zimbabwe in 2013. Pakistan were still a top-flight Test side while Zimbabwe’s cricket team, beset with one crisis after another, had failed to live up to their early promise and were languishing at the bottom of the rankings. The hosts had already lost the first Test of the two-match series and were staring at a whitewash.
In the second Test, Zimbabwe won the toss and decided to bat. They managed 294 helped by half-centuries from Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza. Pakistan's batsmen, in response, looked out of sorts as the opposition chipped away at the wickets. Brian Vitori and Tinashe Panyangara played key roles in restricting them to 230.
Rahat Ali's fifer helped Pakistan strike back as Zimbabwe’s second innings folded for 199.
However, the Zimbabwean bowlers, led by fast-bowler Tendai Chatara, ensured that they got due reward for their efforts. Pakistan were dismissed for 239 and the African nation won the game by 24 runs. The drawn series was a massive achievement for Zimbabwe.