Kaia impresses on Test début but Pakistan dominate first day

Zimbabwe – 176 all out in 59.1 overs (Roy Kaia 48, Donald Tiripano 28*, Milton Shumba 27; Shaheen Shah Afridi 4/43, Hasan Ali 4/53, Nauman Ali 1/29). Pakistan – 103-0 in 30 overs (Abid Ali 56*, Imran Butt 43*). Day 1 – Stumps: Pakistan trail by 73 runs

Roy Kaia fell just two runs short of what would have been a memorable fifty on his début today, but he had done enough to give Zimbabwe’s first-innings total a modicum of respectability on day one of the first Test against Pakistan at Harare Sports Club.

His brilliant knock of 48 was however overshadowed by magnificent pace bowling from Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali who shattered the home side’s inexperienced batting line-up, dismissing them for 176 in their first innings.

Only three of Zimbabwe’s players in this match have played in as many as 10 Test matches, with three – Kaia, Milton Shumba and Richard Ngarava – making their début today.

Zimbabwe won the toss and decided to bat, but a disastrous session before lunch took away any advantage they may have gained from this. Prince Masvaure and Kevin Kasuza opened the innings against the bowling of Afridi and Hasan Ali, who bowled superbly and gave the batsmen a very testing time.

Afridi’s first ball of the match was a brilliant delivery that swung in, moved away and just missed the edge of Masvaure’s bat. There was an appeal for a catch at the wicket, but Langton Rusere, who today became Africa’s first black umpire to stand in a Test match, correctly turned it down.

In the second over, with still no run on the board, Kasuza played a ball from Ali down definitely, only for it to hit the ground and unluckily bounce back on to the stumps.

Masvaure survived for 40 minutes to score 11, when he was undone by extra bounce from a ball from Afridi, and edged a catch to second slip; 18 for two.

With Brendan Taylor joining Tarisai Musakanda, the batting became bogged down and seven successive maiden overs ensued. Musakanda played a fine slow-sweep for six when Nauman Ali came on to bowl, but the left-arm spinner got his revenge with an arm ball that bowled Musakanda through the gap between bat and pad, for 14; Zimbabwe were 30 for three.

Without addition the home side also lost the wicket of Taylor, who played a loose stroke outside the off stump to Ali and was caught at third slip for five, scored off 29 balls.

Zimbabwe were in great trouble with the first four batsmen out for 30 and two debutants in Shumba and Kaia at the crease. Under intense pressure, they handled the situation magnificently.

Kaia got off the mark with a good cover drive for four, and the pair batted securely and with great maturity through to the lunch break, when they had almost doubled the score to 59 for four – Shumba then had 13 and Kaia 16. Shumba began confidently after lunch, and hit Afridi for 10 runs in one over, including an off-drive and a glide to leg for four each.

Batting conditions were easier now, though, as the bowlers were no longer able to swing the ball. A straight drive for four from Shumba brought up the 50 partnership, a major landmark for Zimbabwe after such a bad start. When he had 27, though, Shumba was dropped in the slips by Babar Azam off the bowling of Ashraf.

He did not survive for long, though, as in the following over he called Kaia for a risky single, was sent back and run out at the bowler’s end. It was a sad ending to a very promising and vital innings of 27 off 50 balls, and Zimbabwe were now 89 for five wickets after a fighting partnership of 59.

Regis Chakabva came in and played well with Kaia, who continued to play his strokes. Kaia unfortunately failed to score a fifty on his début – on 48, Ali bowled him three successive short balls, tempting him to hook, and then produced a superb fast yorker that trapped him lbw, with the score now 124 for six.

He faced 94 balls and hit seven fours in what was overall a very impressive innings, especially considering the dire situation that met him when he went in. In his next over, Ali struck again, getting some reverse swing to move the ball away from Chakabva (19), who edged a catch to the keeper; 127 for seven.

Once again Zimbabwe were guilty of losing their wickets in pairs. When Tendai Chisoro came in next to join Donald Tiripano, Ali tested him with a leg-stump yorker first ball, but the batsman clipped it past square leg for four.

Afridi struck again at 141, as he produced a superb delivery that moved in, took the inside edge of Chisoro’s bat and knocked out his leg stump for nine – this was Afridi’s 50th Test wicket. Blessing Muzarabani came in and managed to score three boundaries off the first three balls he faced.

He could not last, though, as Afridi produced a yorker to knock out his off stump for 14 off eight balls, making the score 164 for nine.

Tiripano was batting well and trying to farm the bowling with the last man Ngarava at the wicket with him, but he could not do it all the time, and Ngarava was yorked by Afridi for a single off the third ball he faced. Tiripano finished not out with 28, the second-highest score of the innings, which therefore closed at the tea interval for 176.

Afridi took four wickets for 43 and Hasan Ali four for 53, while Nauman Ali claimed one for 29. When Pakistan replied, Imran Butt and Abid Ali opened the batting against the attack of Muzarabani and Ngarava.

Abid Ali took 14 balls to get off the mark, when he pulled a short ball from Ngarava to the boundary. When Tiripano came on he conceded 13 runs in his first over, and the pace trio was quite unable to put any pressure on the batsmen.

Chisoro bowled a tight line and length and kept the runs down, but the 50 came up without loss in the 17th over. Abid Ali, who took a heavy toll of the short deliveries, was the first man to his fifty, which came off 80 balls.

On a couple of occasions the batsmen mishit the ball in the air, but there was no luck for Zimbabwe, as they fell out of reasonable reach of the fielders. A superb straight drive for four by Butt off Ngarava brought up the team hundred in the 28th over, with the batsmen looking better all the time.

Close of play came with Pakistan on 103 for no wicket, with Abid Ali on 56 and Butt 43, after 30 overs had been bowled, and the tourists are at present in complete control.