Younis double century puts Pakistan in control
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Younis Khan’s unbeaten double century turned the first test on its head Friday as Pakistan came back from a 78-run first-innings deficit to set Zimbabwe 342 to win the series-opener on the final day.
The tourists had Zimbabwe 13-1 by stumps on the fourth day and need nine more wickets in the three sessions remaining to complete their Younis-inspired fightback.
Younis faced 404 balls for his 200 not out, and went to his double hundred with a six the ball before captain Misbah-ul-Haq declared Pakistan’s second innings on 419-9. Pakistan had been 23-3 before Younis’ game-changing innings, which ultimately left Zimbabwe needing a hefty 329 more for an unlikely win at Harare Sports Club.
Spinner Saeed Ajmal also removed Tino Mawoyo lbw in the 7.3 overs the Zimbabweans had to face at the end of the penultimate day.
Lowly-ranked Zimbabwe had started the first of two tests strongly despite this tour being constantly dogged by a player wage dispute and the financial crisis within national body Zimbabwe Cricket, which also has relocated the second test from the south western city of Bulawayo back to Harare to save costs.
But by the end of Friday, the home team was facing another uphill battle.
It was mainly down to Younis, who hit 15 fours and three late sixes, and shared century partnerships with Misbah (52) on Thursday and wicketkeeper-batsman Adnan Akmal (64) earlier Friday to lift Pakistan out of trouble and into a winning position.
Younis forged to his 22nd test hundred in the opening session despite the loss of overnight partner Asad Shafiq in the first over of the day, and survived a chance in the slips himself on 83 before making Zimbabwe pay dearly.
Akmal backed Younis up with an attacking half-century in their 118-run partnership for the sixth wicket before Akmal was run out by a combination of three Zimbabwean fielders. But No. 11 Rahat Ali contributed 35 not out in an unbeaten last-wicket partnership of 88 with Younis to continue Pakistan’s momentum, a stand that probably took the game out of Zimbabwe’s reach.
Offspinner Prosper Utseya claimed three late wickets for his 3-137 and seamers Tinashe Panyangara and Tendai Chatara had two wickets each, but Zimbabwe’s bowlers were nowhere near as effective as they were when they bowled Pakistan out for 249 in the first innings.
Zimbabwe’s last-day battle also will be made tougher by the absence of middle-order batsman Sean Williams, who declined to play because of the non-payment of player wages by the struggling board. The other players agreed to give Zimbabwe Cricket more time to catch up with their wages after threatening to go on strike twice during the tour.
They are expected to finally be paid before the second test starting next Tuesday, but need to focus on saving the opening match before then.