A fine partnership of 116 runs between old warhorses Younis Khan (76*) and Misbah-ul-Haq (52) rescued Pakistan from a precarious situation to end Day Three at 168 for four against Zimbabwe. The hosts though managed to end the day on a high by managing to dismiss the Pakistan skipper.
At 23 for 3, a shock upset seemed imminent but the efforts of experienced pair of Misbah and Younis managed to pull the team out of deep trouble. The pair had managed to stem the pressure to an extent by progressing slowly with an unbeaten partnership of 64 at tea.
With a sound technique and calm approach the batsmen collected runs to steer away from trouble. Younis was the first one to complete his fighting half century before the skipper completed his with a boundary.
The pair was steady before Misbah survived a scare with the score at 134 where the umpire had to go upstairs for a stumping appeal. The replays showed the batsman had managed to sneak his foot back just in time. However, he was dismissed n the next over of Masakadza. The off-spinner foxed the batsman to drive and the Pakistan skipper was dismissed for 52 handing the simplest of catches to Vusi Sibanda at covers.
Asad Shafiq (15*) and Younis Khan (76*) will have a key role to play to extend the lead on the fourth morning.
The 116-run partnership gave the team a chance to stage a comeback. Beginning their second essay trailing by 78 runs, Khurram Manzoor was the first to go dismissed leg before after he went forward to a delivery from Tinashe Panyangara and offered no shot. Panyangara struck once again removing Azhar Ali for a duck. Mohammad Hafeez was brilliantly caught at short extra-cover off Tendai Chatara leaving Pakistan three down and trailing by 55.
Beginning the day at 281 for seven, Saeed Ajmal picked all the remaining wickets not before Chigumbara struck a fluent 69 extending the overnight lead.
Pakistan may be able to save this match, but the approach of the batsmen faltering twice will invite plenty of criticism as they move ahead. The last time they ever lost to Zimbabwe was in 1995 and that to by an innings. The match is definitely heading to an exciting finish.
Pakistan 249 and 168 for 4 (Younis Khan 76*, Misbah-ul-Haq 52; Tinashe Panyangara 2 for 15) lead Zimbabwe 327 (Malcolm Waller 70, Elton Chigumbura 69, Sikandar Raza 60; Saeed Ajmal 7 for 95) by 90 runs.