Pakistan remain in command on day three thanks to Fawad Alam’s fourth century
Day 3 Lunch Zimbabwe 36 for 0 (Kasuza 21*) and 176 trail Pakistan 426 (Fawad 140, Butt 91, Abid 60, Muzarabani 4-73) by 214 runs
Four wickets for Blessing Muzarabani helped wrap up the Pakistan innings in the first session, but not before 140 from Fawad Alam took the Pakistan lead to exactly 250. A cameo from Hasan Ali to begin the day vanquished Zimbabwean hopes of wrapping up the innings without much further damage, and once he fell, Fawad farmed the strike effectively to continue to take the game out of Zimbabwe’s reach. The home side will be reassured by their solidity in the 50 minutes before lunch with the bat to go in without any dismissals, though the continued absence of Prince Masvaure due to a soft tissue injury remains a concern.
Zimbabwe looked purposeful to begin the third day, perhaps because they could see the light at the end of the tunnel, Pakistan’s lower order in their sights. But with Fawad’s obstinate resistance combined with Hasan’s penchant for quick scoring, every boundary – and there were a few – frustrated, as the spectre of an innings defeat moved ever closer. So when Muzarabani went wide of the crease to target the off-stump line and coaxed an edge from Hasan, there were boisterous celebrations.
Muzarabani was on fire all morning; it was notable even as Fawad tried to up the ante. The 24-year old gave him nothing to hit. He followed up the Hasan dismissal with a first ball removal of Nauman Ali, though he did have a splendid second slip catch from Tarisai Musakanda to thank for that. The hat-trick wasn’t to be, but he did ensure Fawad Alam wouldn’t go unbeaten, taking his inside edge as he tried to heave one away to midwicket.
It left Zimbabwe with a tricky 11 overs to negotiate and Pakistan might have been licking their lips at the prospect. But Kevin Kasuza and Musakanda showed more solidity than Zimbabwe displayed through the entire first innings, mixing up solid defensive technique with some exquisite straight and cover drives. There were brief moments of concern when Kasuza needed treatment following a blow to the helmet from Hasan and was reprieved when Imran Butt dropped a regulation catch on 15 at second slip. However the slice of fortune was well earned, and now Zimbabwe have a platform worth building on after lunch.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000