Younis Khan thwarted Zimbabwe with an unbeaten 52 to take Pakistan to 163/3 at stumps on Day Two of the second Test on Wednesday, cutting the hosts’ lead to 131 in the decider at Harare Sports Club.
Younis followed up his game-changing double century in Pakistan’s victory in the first Test with a watchful half century off 127 balls, and settled the tourists with an unbroken 67-run stand with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who was 27 not out. Younis also became the fourth Pakistan player to pass 7000 runs in Tests.
Pakistan had lost opener Khurram Manzoor for 51 to a careless run out early in the final session to leave them 96/3, giving the Zimbabweans a glimmer of hope of taking control in a game they had to win to avoid a fifth series defeat in seven since their return to Test cricket in 2011.
Younis responded with a typically measured innings, hitting six fours and ensuring, most importantly, that he batted through the session to take Pakistan to the end with seven wickets still intact. Misbah was alongside him and the experienced pair were threatening to replicate the partnership they produced to set up Pakistan’s victory in the first Test.
Zimbabwe desperately need quick wickets on Day Three to have a chance of swinging this Test in their favour again.
Zimbabwe’s tailenders had frustrated Pakistan at the start of Day Two, with the last two pairs producing 60 runs and the last pair 46 as the hosts showed some fight to reach 294 after being 237/8 overnight.
Number nine Tinashe Panyangara highlighted the late rally with 24 from 28 balls with four fours, and Zimbabwe’s last four added 86 runs to push them to a decent total, especially with the well-worn Harare pitch looking likely to deteriorate and become harder to bat on having hosted the first Test just days ago. Left-arm seamer Junaid Khan led Pakistan’s bowlers with 4/67 and left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman had 3/47.
In their reply, Pakistan lost the out-of-touch Mohammad Hafeez for 22 after he was in free-flowing form before lunch, only to fall straight after the midday break. Azhar Ali