Pakistan thrashed Zimbabwe the way they were expected. At first, they batted out the hosts, and then it was the bowlers of the visitors who created havoc and orchestrated the fate of the series in just a couple of day’s time. The meek surrender of the host was quite embarrassing, but, nevertheless, there is always a shining line behind the dark clouds. Yes, it was a heavy defeat for the hosts but it should a big learning curve.
An unbeaten double-ton from Abid Ali (215*) and a 126-run knock from former captain Azhar Ali guided the visitors to a mammoth total of 510 for 8. In reply, Zimbabwe managed to score 132 and 231 (follow-on) and lost the game on the fourth day.
Players with a five-wicket haul for Pakistan in the Test – Hasan Ali returned 5 for 27 in the first innings, while Nauman Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up 5 for 86 and 5 for 52 in the second innings respectively. It had been the first time three players have registered five-wicket hauls for Pakistan in a Test match.
It was also just the sixth instance of three players from the same team picking up five-fors in a Test match. The last such occasion was at Edgbaston in 1993, when Australia’s Paul Reiffel, Shane Warne, and Tim May picked up five-fors against England.
Instances when two left-arm bowlers have picked up five-wicket hauls in the same Test innings. Before Nauman and Afridi achieved it in Zimbabwe’s second innings in Harare, England’s George Hirst and Colin Blythe did the same against Australia at Edgbaston in 1909. Hirst and Blythe, in fact, picked up all 20 wickets for England in that Test.
Hasan Ali’s bowling average – 8.92 – in the Test series was the best by a Pakistan bowler in a multi-match Test series. The previous best was 10.40 by Mudassar Nazar during the three-match Test series against England in 1982, where he took ten wickets.
The last time a Pakistan player recorded a 50-plus score and a five-wicket haul in the same Test before Nauman Ali did it in Harare was Saeed Ajmal, who had achieved the double against England in 2010 at Edgbaston.
The victory margin of an innings and 147 runs was their second biggest in an innings win outside Asia. The biggest came in 1973 in Dunedin, when they defeated New Zealand by an innings and 166 runs.
Indeed it was nothing but a jolly-bash for Pakistan in Zimbabwe which prompted the former Pakistan captain and now commentator, Ramiz Raja to say on his YouTube channel, “Such mismatch series should not take place. Test cricket is already under pressure and very few people watch it. If you show them such one-sided matches, then they will switch to watching football or other sports. A three-day Test match is a joke!”
Those were strong words; rather, an expert like Ramiz should have given ideas for Zimbabwe to improve. You see teams like Zimbabwe boast cricketing history. Their present situation might be gloomy, but it can be expected that under proper guidance, they can lift themselves up.
Nevertheless, if Zimbabwe can help Pakistan bring back cricket at their home then why can’t Pakistan lend a helping hand towards them? If one cites their political matters then the political scenario of Afghanistan is not bright as well, but their cricket is not stagnant. Keeping that in mind, Zimbabwe deserve the help of nations like Pakistan and others for progress.