Bulawayo, Sep 6: Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by seven wickets at Queens Sports Club on Monday, getting the winning runs with seven wickets in hand a few minutes before lunch on day five.
They were left needing 88 runs for victory after bundling the home team out for 141 runs in their second innings, although they did lose three wickets in the process.
Having been put into bat by Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Zimbabwe reached 412 all out in their first innings before the tourists replied with 466 all out to establish a first-innings lead of 54. There was not much in it at that stage but Zimbabwe's second effort collapsed to 135-8 at the close of the fourth day, leaving the Pakistanis with the prospect of a routine mop-up operation.
Misbah-ul-Haq said afterwards, "Maybe I was mistaken asking Zimbabwe to bat first. The wicket had green patches. But the bowlers stuck to the task well. Our batting to follow was excellent, of good quality. I am proud of the youngsters, especially Aizaz Cheema, who took eight wickets in the match.
"Zimbabwe are a good side and they will improve with experience and become a strong force in the game I'm sure."
Man of the match was Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez, who scored 119 and took four wickets for 31. With one more wicket he would have recorded a 'viper' in cricket terms -- a century plus five wickets in an innings -- but he did not get a bowl in the final session.
Zimbabwe's opening innings score of 412 looked likely to secure at least a draw, which was their prime target in terms of their need to gain respectability in top cricket circles after being readmitted to Tests after a gap of six years.
And if they had not dropped seven Pakistan wickets in their first innings, plus a fumbled run-out opportunity, the tourists' response might have been much lower than 466.
The Zimbabweans' batsmen were exposed by both Pakistan seam and spin in the second innings. The wicket had deteriorated and they showed inexperience in dealing with it. Five wickets were lost before they even got past the 54-run deficit.
Only Tatenda Taibu and Kyle Jarvis stood between a single figure total and the 141 runs they eventually managed to scrape together. They put on 66 for the ninth wicket during the late afternoon of the fourth day -- not quite a face-saving effort, more a reprimand to their colleagues.
However, the Zimbabwe innings lasted only 15 balls on Monday morning, Taibu and last man Christopher Mpofu falling to Cheema.
Pakistan lost Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar and Azhar Ali in reaching the winning line, but concentration levels required could not have been of the highest. The first of three one-day internationals will be played on Thursday, followed by the other two in the series and two Twenty20 matches to round out the Pakistan tour in Harare.