Pakistan wrapped up the match within two hours of the final day to beat Zimbabwe in the one-off Test match. Taking to the field on 01-Sep-2011 with five new (or almost new) faces, was adventurous to say the least. No doubt, Pakistan was playing an inexperienced Zimbabwean side, but Zimbabwe had recently beaten Bangladesh and shown some sparks of charisma and talent. Pakistan beat Zimbabwe in what turned out to be an interesting match on the fourth and fifth day. Pakistan was an unsettled side, with trouble all around – players banned, captain fired, court cases in progress, ICC giving a cold shoulder, coach resigning, manager changed, international teams staying away, terrorism affecting the game of cricket, and what not. Pakistan was vulnerable too and then to go in with five new faces with no or little experience, well only Pakistan can do that. But they came out successful, defying all odds. Well, that too, only Pakistan can do.
Zimbabwe piled a mammoth 1st inning score of 412, sufficient to psychologically suppress any team, especially an Asian team, Pakistan replied with 466 taking a first inning lead of 54 runs (Hafeez 119, Yunis Khan 88, Azhar Ali 75 and Misbah 66). Then came the second inning and, this time around, Zimbabwe succumbed under the pressure of wasting the advantage of their first inning performance, with Pakistani bowlers reducing them to 69 for 8. Taibu and Javis tried to stable the inning but it took Pakistan 15 deliveries on the fifth day to end the Zimbabwe innings.
The new faces in the Pakistan side gave a mixed performance with the 32 year old Aizaz bin Ilyas Cheema claiming 8 wickets while Sohail Khan and Junaid Khan gave a dismal performance with Junaid Khan hardly bowling in the second inning. Both took one wicket each in the first inning and were wicketless in the second. Adnan Akmal had an OK day though he did leave a few wides fly by for four, he could have done better with the gloves even though he was much better than his elder brother Kamran Akmal who would have let more than a few catches fly by for boundaries. Adnan however should some spark with the bat. Here is the experience profile of the five new (or almost new) faces that we have referred to in the article:
Aizaz Cheema – Debut at the age of 32
Junaid Khan – Debut
Sohail Khan – 1 Test Match experience (which he played in 2009)
Adnan Akmal – 4 Test Matches, yet to play an ODI or T20. Making a comeback with this match
Azhar Ali – 12 Test Matches, 1 ODI and yet to play a T20 (some might not agree with him being termed as new but he is a 19 year old who recently came into international cricket and should not be depended on as a senior fellow to strengthen the middle order. He should be given some time to play as a junior free from all pressures)
Pakistan won the match by seven wickets in the first session of the fifth day having chased a meager target of 88 runs. Final score – Zimbabwe 412 & 141, Pakistan 466 & 88/3