Chakabva hits fifty as Zimbabwe refuse to down without a fight

Pakistan – 510-8 declared in 147.1 overs (Abid Ali 215*, Azhar Ali 126, Nauman Ali 97; Blessing Muzarabani 3/82, Tendai Chisoro 2/131, Richard Ngarava 1/58). Zimbabwe – 132 and (following on) 220-9 in 63 overs (Regis Chakabva 80, Brendan Taylor 49, Luke Jongwe 31*; Nauman Ali 5/86, Shaheen Shah Afridi 4/45). Day 3 – Stumps: Zimbabwe trail by 158 runs

Fighting innings from Regis Chakabva and Brendan Taylor lit up the day’s play but it was too little, too late as Zimbabwe slid towards an innings defeat against Pakistan at Harare Sports Club. The day finished with Zimbabwe on 220 for nine wickets in their second innings, still 158 runs short of saving the innings defeat.

The hosts began the morning on 52 for four wickets, with Chakabva on 28 and Tendai Chisoro one, facing the bowling of Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi. Chisoro edged the third ball of the day – a superb delivery from Hasan – and Imran Butt picked up a fine low catch at second slip.

Chakabva and Luke Jongwe batted positively, looking for opportunities to score, but their partnership was ended by another brilliant catch, as Chakabva (33) flashed at a ball from Hasan outside his off stump and Abid Ali pulled down a high chance; 68 for six.

Another excellent ball from Hasan removed Jongwe, who shouldered arms to a ball well outside his off stump, only for it to jag back in sharply and hit his off stump. He made an aggressive 19 off 24 balls, and Zimbabwe were 77 for seven.

The injured Roy Kaia now came in to join Donald Tiripano. Although in pain, especially when playing off the front foot, Kaia fought bravely and the pair brought up the 100 for the team.

It proved to be the highest partnership of the innings, as they put on 31 runs together before Tiripano poked at a flighted ball from Sajid Khan and was caught at short leg off bat and pad for 23; 108 for eight.

Two runs later, Kaia (11) cut a short and wide ball from Hasan hard, but in the air, and Azhar Ali in the gully clung on to yet another brilliant catch to end a gallant and painful innings. With nothing to lose, the two fast bowlers, Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava, decided to chance their arm and attack.

Ngarava actually hit 14 runs off the flighted spin of Khan before their stand of 22 was brought to an end when Muzarabani was run out for seven attempting a second run.

Ngarava was not out with 15 off 14 balls. Zimbabwe were all out for 132, 378 runs behind on the first innings, and were naturally required to follow on. Hasan’s superb bowling earned him the figures of five for 27, while Khan took two for 39.

Lunch was taken, and then Zimbabwe began their second innings, getting underway with a single to Kevin Kasuza off Afridi’s first ball and a two to Tarisai Musakanda off his second. Musakanda hit another two and then an off-drive for four, so nine runs were scored off that over.

However, Musakanda did not last long – in Afridi’s third over, he nibbled at a ball moving away from him and edged it to the keeper, making the score 13 for one. When Hasan and Tabish Khan came on they bowled with great accuracy and runs almost dried up, even with Chakabva at the crease with Kasuza.

Finally Chakabva broke the shackles with two successive drives for four off Tabish. Then, when Sajid Khan came on to bowl for the first time in the second innings, Chakabva saw him tossing the ball up and decided to take advantage, hitting him for a four and two sixes off successive deliveries.

Kasuza laboured over his first 16 runs, but then he took a leaf from Chakabva’s book and suddenly hit Nauman Ali for a straight six. However, the bowler quickly got his revenge, as three balls later Kasuza tried to do it again off the wrong ball, and was cunningly deceived by Nauman and comprehensively bowled.

Kasuza was out for 22, and Zimbabwe were 63 for two wickets. With Brendan Taylor, Chakabva continued to hit the loose ball in fine style, and Tabish’s next over went for two fours, a cover drive and a pull.

Taylor also decided to attack, and he laid into Tabish with a slog-sweep and lofted on-drive, both for four. In the last over before tea he took three fours off the same bowler.

At the break Zimbabwe were 98 for two, with Chakabva on 43 and Taylor 24 off only 15 balls. After tea Chakabva brought up his 50 off 72 balls, and the team hundred at the same time, with a straight six off Nauman.

Both batsmen now attacked the bowling in remarkable style, even the pacemen. Taylor reached 49 off 31 balls, and looked capable of recording the fastest fifty for Zimbabwe in Test cricket, a record held by Andy Blignaut off 33 balls.

However, he moved across to turn a short ball from Afridi to fine leg and was given out caught down the leg side by the wicketkeeper – Zimbabwe’s third wicket had fallen at 142. Chakabva continued to play positively, but at one stage he got rather bogged down.

With his score on 80 he had a slog at a spinning ball from Nauman tossed rather wide, and sliced a sharp catch to Azam at slip, making the score 170 for four. Milton Shumba, after a slow start, hit Nauman for two fours in an over, and he was joined by Luke Jongwe.

Shumba was out for 16 to another brilliant catch, getting an inside edge on to his pad against Nauman, which was held by the diving Butt; 188 for five. Tiripano did not score, misjudging a ball from Nauman, playing back and being trapped lbw by one that kept low – the pitch was showing uneven bounce during the day.

Kaia came in next and was out first ball with a rash pull stroke to be caught at square leg; 196 for seven. Chisoro quickly hit a four to bring up the 200 – only 55 overs had been bowled.

Afridi returned just before 5pm and removed Chisoro for eight with a fast yorker that scattered his stumps, and repeated the delivery to remove Ngarava first ball. Azam claimed the extra half-hour, but Jongwe was still there and not inclined to give his wicket away, or to allow Muzarabani to do so.

Just before 5.15 the umpires took the players off the field for bad light with nine wickets down, with Jongwe on 31 and Muzarabani yet to score. The teams will have to return tomorrow morning with Pakistan needing to take the final Zimbabwe wicket to wrap up the match and the series.