Abid Ali and Hasan Ali break records against a weak Zimbabwe side
Pakistan cricket team ended their successful tour to Zimbabwe with a two-Test series win without facing any resistance.The Green-shirts won the first Test by an innings and 116 runs and the second by an innings and 147 runs. Both Tests finished in around three days.
The Test series win against Zimbabwe was Pakistan’s sixth consecutive series win. Pakistan defeated South Africa in Tests and T20Is at home earlier this year and then won the T20I and ODI series in the return series before winning the Africa with T20I and Test series wins in Harare.
This is the sixth time that Pakistan have won six or more series on the trot. Pakistan won 13 straight series in 2011-12, nine consecutive series in 2015-16, eight successive series in 2001-02 and six straight series in 1993-94 and 2017-18.
Pakistan reached fifth position in the ICC Test Team rankings, their best since 2017.
Although he failed as a batsman, Babar Azam became the first Pakistan skipper to win his first four Tests. He won two Tests against South Africa in Pakistan and two in Zimbabwe.
Babar has the chance to improve his captaincy record when Pakistan play two Tests against West Indies and Bangladesh in August and September, respectively.
The selectors provided an opportunity to fast bowler Tabish Khan and spinner Sajid Khan during the Zimbabwe series.
In the second Test, fast bowler Tabish got the Test cap at the age of 36 years and 146 days. Before the Test debut, Tabish had played 137 first-class matches.
The 598 first class wickets proved that he is a talented bowler. The right-arm fast bowler has 515 scalps to his name in 115 matches he played in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
But why was a player who made his first class debut in 2002-03 not considered in the last 18 years? Why has he been given the chance only now when he is near the retirement age?
In his debut Test, after taking his first international wicket in the first over, Tabish remained wicket-less in the next 25 overs conceding 68 runs. Like many other players, it could be his first and last Test.
The Zimbabwe tour was only the second foreign trip for Tabish. He played three matches for Pakistan A against Sri Lanka-A in Sri Lanka where he took only four wickets at a high average of 81.50.
Fast bowlers Shahnawaz Dhani and Mohammad Hasnain (not in the Test squad) could have been given the opportunity to get international experience against a low-profile team.
Slow left arm orthodox bowler Nauman Ali is another example of late induction in the national squad. He made his Test debut against South Africa in Karachi in January this year at the age of 34 years.
His 7-73 on debut against Proteas proved that he deserved an early call. Nauman proved his skills against Zimbabwe as well as he took 5-86 in the second Test.
Nauman also showed his batting talent with 97 runs off 104 balls. With opener Abid Ali, he shared a quick partnership of 169 that helped Pakistan cross the 500 mark.
In the 20-member Pakistan squad, seven players are over 30 years of age. The importance of the seniors can’t be denied, but against a 10th-ranked Test team youngsters deserved to get a chance.
In the second Test, Hasan Ali, Nauman and Shaheen Shah Afridi took five-wicket hauls, the
first time in Pakistan history that three bowlers did so in a Test. Overall, it was only the sixth occasion in Test history and first time since 1993.
Hasan was declared the Man-of-the-Series for his 14 wickets that he grabbed at an excellent average of 8.92. He grabbed five-wicket hauls in both Tests.
Hasan has been performing brilliantly since his comeback from a year-long injury layoff. In the last three Tests he has taken 24 wickets at an average of less than 10 runs. His last six Test innings performances are 5-54, 5-60, 4-53, 5-36, 5-27, and 0-9.
Shaheen’s performance is improving match by match. He was behind Hasan with 10 scalps, averaging 16.40.
Nauman bowled reasonably well and played a vital role in the second Test win with his 5-86 in the second innings. Off spinner Sajid Khan didn’t get enough chance to prove his mettle in the presence of Hasan, Shaheen and Nauman.
Blessing Muzarabani was the most successful bowler for the hosts with seven wickets at an average of 22.14.
Opener Abid remained the most successful batsman of the Test series with 275 runs in two innings at a stupendous average of 275 with one fifty and one double hundred. Azhar Ali and Fawad Alam were the other batsmen who scored centuries in the series.
With his unbeaten 215, Abid surpassed former captain Younis Khan’s record of unbeaten 200 in Zimbabwe.
Surprisingly, skipper Babar Azam failed in both Tests miserably. In the first Test, he got his first golden duck and in the second Test he managed only 2 runs.