Abid Ali celebrates after scoring 200 runs during the second Test match against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Saturday. AP
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor paid tribute to Pakistan after the tourists took total control on the second day of the second Test at Harare Sports Club on Saturday, outclassing the home side with both bat and ball to take a huge step towards sealing a 2-0 series victory. Zimbabwe were 52 for four at the close in reply to Pakistan's 510 for eight declared, 458 runs behind.
After remaining reasonably competitive until lunch on Saturday, Zimbabwe's bowlers took a hammering during the afternoon. Opening batsman Abid Ali made 215 not out and Nauman Ali slammed 97 before being stumped off a wide. The pair plundered 169 runs off 199 balls for the eighth wicket.
"They're showing us how to play Test cricket at the moment," admitted Taylor, acknowledging that the afternoon run feast was the culmination of hours of disciplined batting. "We can learn a lot from their batsmen, the way they apply themselves. They just try and wear you down. At the end of the day your bowlers are almost at the brink. That's what Test cricket is all about."
Abid said scoring a maiden Test double century was a career highlight. "It's a big achievement for me. I wanted to bat for two sessions to take the total to 500. Although we lost a few early wickets Nauman gave me good company and we managed to take the total to where we wanted," he said.
Abid Ali celebrates after scoring 200 runs during the second Test match at Harare Sports Club. AP
Taylor admitted Pakistan's batting took its toll ahead of Zimbabwe's reply. "You're 150 overs out there fielding and it's never easy getting your mindset around to batting."
The Zimbabwe innings got off to a bad start when 36-year-old debutant Tabish Khan struck in his first over before a run had been scored.
Three more wickets fell before the close and Zimbabwe looked in desperate trouble with Roy Kaia not coming out to bat after being struck a heavy blow on his left knee while fielding at short leg on Friday. Kaia was Zimbabwe's top-scorer with 48 when Zimbabwe were routed by an innings and 116 runs in the first Test of the two-match series.
"I think he's ruled out for the first innings but he's looking a bit more mobile and hopefully he can come out in the second innings," said Taylor.
Zimbabwe went into the match without three leading batsmen because of injury and Kaia's absence was a further blow.
Even so, Taylor said his side's batting was disappointing.
"We believe we're a far better unit than that. Yes, we're missing some senior players but we've got some young quality there that's certainly capable."
Nauman's bizarre dismissal
Pakistan's innings ended in bizarre circumstances. Nauman was 93 not out at tea. He hit the first ball after the interval for four but lifted his back foot after left-arm spinner Tendai Chisoro bowled a wide with his next delivery.
Wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva reacted quickly and took off the bails. He hit 97 off 104 balls with five sixes and nine fours. Having scored most of his runs behind or square of the wicket in scoring his first 150, Abid blossomed with some handsome drives during the afternoon.
He faced 407 balls and hit 29 fours in beating his previous highest score in Tests of 174 against Sri Lanka in Karachi in 2019/20. Tabish, a veteran of 598 wickets in 137 first-class matches, shared the new ball with Shaheen Shah Afridi, who started with a maiden over.
Tabish set up Tarisai Masakanda with a series of deliveries outside the off stump then trapped the batsman leg before wicket with a full delivery which snaked back. Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi and off-spinner Sajid Khan all took wickets as only Regis Chakabva, on 28 not out, was able to reach double figures.
Abid Ali then replied with a solid unbeaten 56 while fellow opener Imran Butt made 43 not out as Pakistan closed the day on 103 without loss. Both Abid and Imran were cautious at the start, having failed miserably in Pakistan's 2-0 home series win over South Africa in February.
The fourth day of the Test in Harare lasted just over 20 minutes as Pakistan, needing a single wicket, had Luke Jongwe caught by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan to give Shaheen Shah Afridi his fifth wicket.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali continued his mastery over Zimbabwe's batsmen with a career-best five for 27 as Zimbabwe lost six wickets for 80 runs in an extended morning's play.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) who were at the rock bottom in the table and playing for the pride only, defeated Rajasthan to dent their hopes. Rajasthan are at the sixth spot with 10 points from as many matches, having won five and lost five.
Pakistan's former captain Inzamam-ul Haq was brought to the hospital after experiencing chest pain. Haq underwent an angioplasty and is currently in a stable condition, said local media reports.
Sunil Narine shone with bat and ball as Kolkata Knight Riders boosted their play-off hopes with a three-wicket win over Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.