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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd Test 2021

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Stumps Pakistan 268 for 4 (Azhar 126, Abid 118*, Muzarabani 3-41) vs Zimbabwe

Centuries from Abid Ali and Azhar Ali put Pakistan in firm command of the second Test at stumps in Harare. The pair combined for a 236-run second wicket partnership – a record at this venue – which spanned nearly the entirety of the day.

Zimbabwe found themselves toiling on a slow pitch, with the ball offering little encouragement for most of the day as the two batters played out near chanceless innings. The arrival of the new ball ensured the hosts would have something to take back with them overnight, with three quickfire strikes from Blessing Muzarabani sending Azhar, Babar Azam and Fawad Alam back before stumps were called. Even so, Pakistan had moved on to 268 for 4 by that time, finishing the day well in control.

The visitors opted to bat after winning the toss, with the most striking bit of news the decision to hand a debut to 36-year old Tabish Khan. The reasons for excluding Faheem Ashraf, entering perhaps the most promising phase of a young Test career, weren’t quite satisfactorily explained, and the omission meant Pakistan’s tail was somewhat extended.

Pakistan might have been keen to ensure they don’t need extra runs from the lower order, and while Azhar and Abid have effectively guaranteed them that, it was Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava who enjoyed the better of the first hour. As they did in the first Test, the pair gave little away by way of scoring opportunities, bogging the two openers down. Imran Butt looked a little indecisive against deliveries around his off stump, with both bowlers working him over as the dot balls began to mount. It was the change of pace that worked though, with Ngarava banging one in short that hustled Butt as he tried to pull over midwicket. No timing on that shot meant he would never clear the man, and Zimbabwe had an early breakthrough.

It wasn’t until the over before drinks in a first hour that Zimbabwe dominated that the shackles began to be broken. Azhar got Donald Tiripano off for a boundary on either side of the wicket to tick the scoreboard over, and from thereon, a touch of sloppiness seeped its way into Zimbabwe’s game. Abid was significantly more circumspect as the former Pakistan captain Azhar taking charge of the scoring, but a loose over from Tendai Chisoro allowed the opener to get a couple of fours away too, and get himself settled.

Pakistan resumed after lunch at a much higher tempo than was the case in the morning, with the hour following the break especially productive. Tiripano, among the brighter lights for Zimbabwe in the first Test, was especially lackadaisical, his lines and lengths wavering constantly as the batters picked up a boundary just about every over. Azhar was especially proficient at creating gaps backward of square and through the midwicket area, while Abid expertly leant on and timed through the covers the full deliveries.

With the ball doing little – and little on offer from the surface – Zimbabwe will be disappointed at not having maintained their disciplines and waited for the batters to make mistakes. The frustration began to show as the session wore on, and that bred even more waywardness on the part of the bowlers.

Zimbabwe managed to convince the umpires to get the ball changed after 53 overs, but that did not herald a change of fortune. If anything, things went from bad to worse as a long-hop from Chisoro was walloped by Abid into short leg, where Roy Kaia was stationed. It caught the side of the left knee, and Kaia was in agony for several minutes before being stretchered off, adding another potential injury to Zimbabwe’s long casualty list.

But none of that fazed the two batters, who continued hour upon hour and session upon session, wholly focused on spending time at the crease and accumulating runs wherever possible. The run rate played cat and mouse with the three runs per over mark for much of the last two sessions, and while that made for slightly tedious viewing at times, the levels of concentration it might have taken to look as assured as the pair did should not go unremarked. Abid needed runs desperately this series to save his spot in the side, while Azhar, whom Pakistan had sacked as captain, continued to remind the selectors his place in the side remains set in stone.

But with both having cruised to their centuries and looking to set themselves up for the following day, Zimbabwe struck back with some class of their own. A triple-strike from Muzarabani restored some respectability to the scorecard from the bowlers’ point of view, beginning when Azhar looked to drive him on the up, only finding a thick edge that flew to gully.

It was followed up by the big price of Azam’s wicket, in similar fashion to the way Azhar fell. Muzarabani’s knack of troubling the Pakistan captain continues to pay dividends; this is the sixth time since his return to the national side last year that the Zimbabwean has got rid of Azam. There was also time to see the back of Alam, whom Muzarabani worked over thoroughly in a brief innings. He was peppered with the short ball before finally dragging one on to the stumps, with Pakistan scurrying to send in nightwatchman Sajid Khan to see the day out.

Zimbabwe finished the day as they began it – on top – but being as exceptionally ineffective as they were in the middle came with its costs. They will need to pick up where they left off tomorrow morning, and stick at it until the final wicket is taken if the damage wrought by the Azhar and Abid Ali is to be reversed.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000



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Bangladesh unhappy as Australia’s Covid-19 demands force Mushfiqur Rahim to miss home T20Is

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According to the terms agreed to between the two boards, the senior batter can’t enter the Dhaka bio-bubble now

Bangladesh are unhappy with Mushfiqur Rahim‘s enforced absence from the Bangladesh squad for the upcoming T20Is at home against Australia, a direct result of the Covid-19 protocols demanded by Cricket Australia. The word “unfair” is floating around in some private conversations among players and BCB officials, and the general feeling is that CA has asked for too much, and the BCB has gone a bit too far in accepting the demands.
The two boards had agreed to include their respective bio-bubbles in Zimbabwe and the West Indies as part of the mandatory pre-series ten-day quarantine in Dhaka. But Rahim had to leave Harare for home after both his parents contracted Covid-19. As a result, he can’t be in the Dhaka bio-bubble now. What has upset the Bangladesh team even more is that while Rahim has not been allowed to re-enter the bubble, the players who have returned from Zimbabwe have had to do so after going through four airports – Harare, Johannesburg, Doha and Dhaka – with potentially greater exposure to the virus, but there have been no objections there.

“It is unfair what happened with Mushfiq,” a member of Bangladesh’s tour party to Zimbabwe, told ESPNcricinfo. “We came in a commercial flight passing through three airports so I don’t know if it makes much sense to keep Mushfiq out of the series. He went back home from the middle of a tour for a family problem. So to not allow him to enter the quarantine after just two or three days, is not right.”



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SL vs IND, 2nd T20I, 2021

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He trusted his lower-order team-mates to play big shots if he took the game deep

Bat long and take the game deep. These were the things Dhananjaya de Silva was telling himself during his match-winning 40 not out off 34 balls on Wednesday when he helped deliver Sri Lanka’s first T20I victory in six matches.

Not known for his hitting capability, the match situation was perhaps made for de Silva, who struck only two boundaries – a six and a four – and focused instead on running singles and twos. With a severely depleted India making only 132, Sri Lanka did not require huge fireworks with the bat to chase it down.

“This is what I’m meant to do for the team,” de Silva said after the match. “In the previous match as well, what I’d been told was to bat 20 overs from one side. I wasn’t able to do that in the previous game. Today was my day and I did that. If I can bat at a run-a-ball until the final overs, letting others attack around me, I can raise my strike rate towards the finish as well. That was the coach, captain and selectors’ plan.”



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The Hundred – Jofra Archer not expected to link up with Southern Brave this week

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Team hopeful of having the pacer for the last four games as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery

Southern Brave are not expecting to have Jofra Archer available for either of their next two men’s Hundred fixtures as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery.

Archer has played twice for Sussex in the last 10 days, first bowling three overs in their Vitality Blast win against Kent and a further six against Oxfordshire in a 50-over warm-up match last Tuesday, but has not linked up with the Southern Brave squad since the start of the Hundred and is not expected to do so this week.

“We’re hearing stuff from the medical teams at the ECB and Sussex,” James Vince, the Brave’s men’s captain, said after Tuesday’s defeat to Welsh Fire. “I think he’s maybe undergoing a jab or something yesterday or today, and then hopefully we might get him for the last four [games] or something.

“It’s one of those where I’m staying out of it and leaving it to the experts in that area. Hopefully we do get him because it would be a big boost for us, but if we don’t, we’ve got guys who are capable here.”



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