IT really should have been Zimbabwe’s day yesterday but after gaining a firm grip on the second Test by taking a first innings lead of 64 after bowling out Pakistan for 230, they somehow let off with the bat to leave the match delicately poised going into the fourth day.
Zimbabwe were 185 runs ahead at stumps but having scored 121-4 after losing opening batsman Prosper Utseya (5), half centurion Tino Mawoyo (58), Hamilton Masakadza (44) and Tinashe Panyangara (0).
Abdur Rehman and Rahat Ali equally shared the four wickets.
Brian Vitori, making a return to Test cricket after 20 months on the sidelines and Panyangara, who dismissed the destructive Younis Khan, had laid the platform for Zimbabwe to take a firm grip of the match.
And when Mawoyo and Masakadza combined well following the dismissal of Utseya, it looked like Zimbabwe were on course until the late collapse ensued.
Vitori celebrated his maiden five-wicket haul after putting up a spellbinding performance with the second new ball.
Pakistan had earlier resumed on an overnight score of 163-3 with Younis Khan and skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq in the middle on 52 and 27 respectively.
Zimbabwe knew that any hopes of winning this match lay in removing Younis Khan before he could cause more damage with the bat. But it was Misbah-Ul-Haq (33) who departed first just after the new ball had been taken. He edged Vitori to Masakadza at slip with 19 runs added to the overnight total.
It was downhill from there with Pakistan collapsing from 182-3 to 230 all-out before tea as Vitori made the most of the new ball.
After Assad Shafiq had been castled by Tendai Chatara for just 10 runs to reduce the tourists to 211-5, the next wicket was the most prized as Panyangara took out the big fish, Younis Khan, for 77 runs after combining with Mawoyo, who held on this time after his drop proved destructive in the second innings of the first Test.
Panyangara then snared Abdur Rehman before Vitori dealt with the tail, removing Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan with ease to give the batsmen a platform to succeed.
Prior to yesterday’s match, Vitori had not played Test cricket for 20 months and he showed that the hype placed on him when he first entered the international cricketing arena was not misplaced.
He finished with figures of 5-61 while Panyangara had 4-43.