Harare, May 7 (IANS) Pakistan’s Abid Ali struck his first Test century since December 2019 and Azhar Ali registered his 18th ton as the visitors looked set for a 400-plus total in the second Test against Zimbabwe, reaching 268 for 4 on the opening day at the Harare Sports Club on Friday.
Pakistan suffered a setback in the last hour of play, losing three wickets when the home team’s 24-year-old pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani snared the well-set Azhar Ali (126), skipper Babar Azam (2) and Fawad Alam (5), returning figures of three for 41.
At close of play, Abid Ali was unbeaten on 118, while Sajid Khan had scored one from 16 deliveries.
Pakistan made one change from the last Test — which they won by an innings and 116 runs — bringing in fast bowler Tabish Khan in place of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.
After winning the toss, Babar Azam elected to bat. Pakistan were dealt the first blow in the first hour with opener Imran Butt top-edging a rising short-pitched delivery from left-arm fast bowler Richard Ngarava to Donald Tiripano.
That was Zimbabwe’s only success for most part of the day as the pair of Abid and Azhar stitched a brilliant 236-run stand.
After providing the tourists with a solid foundation in the morning session, the two played freely through the off-side, cutting and driving the pacers and spinners alike after lunch.
The hosts remained wicket-less in the second session, which amplified their woes.
Azhar struck 17 fours in his 126, before he edged Muzarabani’s length delivery outside the off-stump to gully while going for a drive. This was Azhar’s first century against Zimbabwe.
Abid, unbeaten on 118, held his end as Muzarabani continued to take wickets at the other. The Zimbabwe pacer engineered the big wicket of Babar Azam before getting rid of the left-handed Fawad Alam, who chopped on another Muzarabani rising delivery.
Brief scores: Pakistan 268 for 4 in 90 overs (Azhar Ali 126, Abid Ali 118*; Blessing Muzarabani 3-41).