Zimbabwe’s 24-run Test win against Pakistan at Harare was one against all odds. In fact, they hadn’t beaten any top Test playing nation since shocking India in 2001 at the same venue of the latest historic win. As Zimbabwe enjoy their rare moment of joy in international cricket, specifically Test matches, we look back at Zimbabwe’s two other Test wins against Pakistan.
Harare 1995: Zimbabwe’s first Test win came just three years after their initiation in Test cricket. Not surprisingly, the venue and the team were the same as the latest – Harare and Pakistan. That Pakistan team was much stronger than the present one, but they have always been erratic. In the match, Zimbabwe won the toss and batted first. They compiled a massive 544 for 4 against an attack that comprised the likes of Akram and Aaqib Javed. Grant Flower played what unarguably was among the best innings of his career. Opening the batting, he returned unbeaten on 201 having faced 523 balls.
Flower got excellent support from his brother Andy, who came up with a majestic 156. Guy Whittal was the third batsmen to cross hundred, remaining unbeaten on 113. In spite of having a solid batting line up, Pakistan floundered in reply. Aamir Sohail, Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-Ul-Haq scored half-centuries, but Pakistan could not avoid the follow on. They were all out for 322. Heath Streak was the wrecker in chief with 6 for 90.
Pakistan were even more disastrous in their second innings. They folded up for a mere 158, and went on to lose the Test by an embarrassing margin of an innings and 64 runs. Inzamam with 65 was the only batsman who crossed fifty. In fact only three Pakistan batsmen ended up with double figure scores. As for Zimbabwe, Streak was once again their best bowler. He finished with magnificent figures of 3 for 15. He got great support from the other bowlers this time –David Brain and Guy Whittal also picked up three wickets each.
Peshawar 1998: This time Zimbabwe proved their supremacy against Pakistan away from home. Zimbabwe again won the toss but, unlike in Harare, they decided to insert the opposition in. Pakistan were bowled out for a competitive yet disappointing (by their standards) 296. Pakistan’s innings was built around Ijaz Ahmed’s 87 and Yousuf Youhana’s 75. Streak again starred for Zimbabwe with four wickets. Pakistan fought back brilliantly with the ball courtesy Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who scalped nine wickets between themselves. Zimbabwe were cleaned up for 238 in spite of Neil Johnson’s 107.
It was Pakistan’s disastrous second innings batting performance that cost them the Test. They were shockingly rolled over for 103. Henry Olonga grabbed four wickets while Pommie Mbangwa claimed three scalps. Streak also chipped in with a coupe as Pakistan set Zimbabwe a completely gettable target of 162. Despite Akram’s three-for, Zimbabwe eased home to victory by seven wickets. Murray Goodwin was the hero for the visitors with his unbeaten knock of 73.
--By A Cricket Analyst