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Zimbabwe vs Pakistan 1st Test (Day 4): Pakistan strike after Younis double

A valiant, unbeaten double-ton by Younis Khan ensured Zimbabwe had a mountain of 342 to climb on a fifth day pitch. He single -handedly turned a match which began with Pakistan in serious trouble, to most likely end in Pakistan’s favor.1st Test: Younis Khan's double century puts Pakistan on top on Day 4

If the hosts had any misgivings about the magnitude of the task, Ajmal snaffled a wicket in the few overs left to put Pakistan firmly in the box seat.

Pakistan’s old men continued to show up their younger counterparts as Younis Khan applied himself superbly to score his 22nd Test Century. His knock came under a lot of pressure, first digging the team out of a hole with skipper Misbah and then going on to consolidate a sturdy lead of over 200 which might be pretty hefty in hands of Ajmal and friends (as first innings hero Malcolm Waller had predicted). Time was not an issue, and barring an occasional dance down the track and inside edges which evaded the stumps, Younis rarely gave the hosts any opening. The inexperience fo the Zimbabwe bowlers showed as they gradually lost discipline after having them at 169/5 at one stage.

Zimbabwe vs Pakistan 1st Test (Day 4), Pakistan strike after Younis double¬†fifth wicket, that of Asad Shafiq, bowled for 15 by Chatara early in the day, again showed the inadequacy of the younger batsmen in conditions which are far from trying. Their first innings failure could still be wrapped in excuse of a more difficult deck, not this time. Adnan Akmal, however, stuck around long enough with a patient half-century of his own to stretch the lead as Younis was happy to drop anchor. The hallmark of his innings was waiting for bad balls which he duly dispatched for boundaries. Akmal’s run out just before tea, though – yet again seems to open up the match a little bit. Prosper Utseya then snared Rehman LBW to get Zimbabwe into the tail as the teams headed for tea.

Amid all the action Tinashe Panganyara continued to bowl brilliantly, keeping it in the ‘corridor’ to end with figures of 33 runs from 29 overs! The pressure built up by him, got to Ajmal too as he went back to cut one which stayed low, and was trapped LBW. Utseya’s double strike on either side of the tea kept Zimbabwe’s hopes alive. While Junaid was jumpy during his short stay , it was Rahat Ali’s pesky cameo at the tail end which truly frustrated Zimbabwe. Younis, sensing the match-situation started opening up with boundaries, a particular reverse-sweep to deep-cover could be mistaken to have been struck by Matthew Hayden. Rahat at the other end hit three fours and three sixes off Chatara and Utseya to stretch the lead. At the other end Younis continued to march on to his third career double hundred.

If the unbeaten last wicket stand of 88 broke the Zimbabwean perseverance, it was the tall 342 as the target which must have met with tredpidation among their batsmen, who were undoubtedly looking at at least hundred runs less to chase. On a fifth day pitch, Ajmal alone is a big threat, while Junaid Khan began with some impressive lines and movement. The result was a wicket off the last ball of the day as an Ajmal doosra trapped Mawoyo LBW. Given the quality of Pakistan’s bowling attack, it is likely that Zimbabwe will opt for safey-first option, and hope that Ajmal doesn’t find enough purchase to trouble their green line-up ..