Mohammad Hafeez made his first away ton, and Azhar Ali contributed an steady half-century, but Misbah-ul-Haq produced the most impressive innings of the day as Pakistan crawled towards first-innings parity. Zimbabwe played their part in Pakistan’s dominance, spilling five catches in the innings, to leave their limited bowling attack in turmoil.
Zimbabwe’s day of toil was ushered in by their mind-numbingly predictable lengths from the first ball — a Kyle Jarvis half-volley that Azhar punched down the ground. The seamers lacked the pace to bother the batsmen and focussed on tight lengths, hoping for an error. It was a plan that played into the hands of each of Pakistan’s batsmen, starting with Hafeez.
Hafeez’s forward press is designed for batsman-friendly pitches such as this one. His ability to lean out and drive through the line — and when required, on the up — makes him an entertaining fair-weather batsman. He had a scare in the second over of the day, when Chris Mpofu grassed a return catch, but the reprieve only increased Hafeez’s resolve.
He remained cautious until he reached the century off his 128th ball, but after that the drives and glides began to flow more naturally, as Mpofu and Vitori paid the price for offering width.
While Hafeez played within himself, Azhar provided the sparkle. His batting technique is founded on stronger fundamentals than Hafeez’s — a balanced trigger movement, decisive footwork and soft hands. Azhar was fluent off the pads, but his best strokes came through the off side, when he caressed Vitori and punched Mpofu through extra cover, off either foot.— Cricinfo.
ZIM DROPPED THEIR THIRD CATCH IN THREE SESSIONS
Zimbabwe dropped their third catch in three sessions, when Vusi Sibanda at midwicket spilled a straightforward offering from Misbah. Thereafter Misbah was immovable. With a forward stride that would have given Jason Gillespie an inferiority complex, he smothered nearly everything that was tossed in his half.