x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Misbah all praise for debutant Cheema as Pakistan beat Zimbabwe

Medium pacer takes eight wickets in the one-off Test in Bulawayo before the touring side clinch victory by seven wickets on Monday.

Pakistan's victory over Zimbabwe was the first by a team from the subcontinent this summer.
Pakistan's victory over Zimbabwe was the first by a team from the subcontinent this summer.

BULAWAYO // Pakistan eased to victory in their one-off Test match against Zimbabwe, reaching the 88 runs required with seven wickets in hand at the Queens Sports Club.

Earlier on the fifth morning, the tourists bowled out Zimbabwe out for 141 runs in their second innings, giving them a simple run chase with the only question was if they could score quickly enough to reach their target before the lunch break — which they did.

It is the first Test match a side from the subcontinent has won this summer, following Sri Lanka and India's fruitless tours of England and the Lankans losing their opening Test against Australia in Galle.

Having been put into bat by Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, Zimbabwe reached 412 all out in their first innings before the tourists replied with 466 all out to establish a slender first-innings lead of 54.

There was not much in it at that stage but Zimbabwe's second effort collapsed to 135 for eight at the close of the fourth day, leaving Pakistan with the prospect of a routine mop-up operation.

"Maybe I was mistaken asking Zimbabwe to bat first," Misbah said. "The wicket had green patches, but the bowlers stuck to the task well.

"Our batting to follow was excellent, of good quality. I am proud of the youngsters, especially Aizaz Cheema [the medium pacer on his Test debut], who took eight wickets [for 103] in the match.

"Zimbabwe are a good side and they will improve with experience and become a strong force in the game I'm sure."

Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan opener, picked up the man-of-the-match award following his 119 and taking four for 31.

Zimbabwe's opening innings score of 412 looked likely to secure at least a draw, which was their prime target in terms of their need to gain respectability in top cricket circles after resuming Test cricket after a gap of six years.

And if they had not dropped seven Pakistan wickets in their first innings, plus a fumbled run-out opportunity, the tourists' response might have been much lower.

The Zimbabwe batsmen were exposed by both Pakistan seam and spin in the second innings.

The wicket had deteriorated and they showed inexperience in dealing with it. Five wickets were lost before they even got past the 54-run deficit.

Only Tatenda Taibu and Kyle Jarvis stood between a single figure total and the 141 runs they eventually managed to scrape together.

They put on 66 for the ninth wicket during the late afternoon of the fourth day — not quite a face-saving effort, more a reprimand to their colleagues.

However, the Zimbabwe innings lasted only 15 balls this morning, Taibu and the No 11 Christopher Mpofu falling to Cheema.

Pakistan lost Hafeez, Tafeeq Umar and Azhar Ali in their chase, but concentration levels required could not have been of the highest.

The first of three one-day internationals will be played here on Thursday, followed by the other two in the series and two Twenty20 matches to round out the Pakistan tour in Harare.