Mawoyo holds Zimbabwe together

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Opening batsman Tino Mawoyo's patient knock allowed Zimbabwe to share the honours on the opening day of their Test against Pakistan in Bulawayo.

Opening batsman Tino Mawoyo's patient knock allowed Zimbabwe to share the honours on the opening day of their Test against Pakistan in Bulawayo.

Mawoyo survived the full 90 overs to go to stumps on 82 not out as the hosts closed on 245 for four, having been put in to bat on a sluggish but flat Queens Sports Club wicket.

Comprising 273 deliveries, Mawoyo's was not an innings to set the heart racing, but it allowed Zimbabwe to compete against opponents with a top-class spinner who threatened to expose the hosts' inexperience in five-day cricket.

Saeed Ajmal took three of the four wickets to fall as Pakistan's rookie seamers, who boasted a solitary cap between the three of them, struggled to make an impact in the conditions.

Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bowl first went against the prevailing wisdom at Queens, as Sohail Khan, Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema found out the hard way.

Mawoyo put on a 71-run opening stand with Vusi Sibanda, a record for Zimbabwe against Pakistan, with patience undoubtedly the name of the game – at one stage the pair went 38 scoreless deliveries.

Ajmal was only introduced after 16 overs, but went on to bowl 19 overs unchanged as his doosra predictably posed the greatest threat to Zimbabwe's batsman.

The delivery ended Sibanda's knock five runs short of a half-century when he advanced down the pitch and was beaten, leaving Adnan Akmal with a simple stumping, and although Hamilton Masakadza made it through to lunch he looked equally unsure against Ajmal.

It was therefore no surprise when he was bowled by the spinner shortly after the break as he tried to pull through the legside, while the quicker one from Ajmal accounted for Brendan Taylor soon after to leave Zimbabwe on a sketchy 111 for three.

Tatenda Taibu added some vital impetus to the flagging innings as he took the attack to Ajmal and added 65 to the total with Mawoyo at a more positive run rate, with the duo reaching tea on 162 for three.

However the wicketkeeper-batsman paid for a lack of footwork in the final session when he flashed at a wide one and was caught behind for 44, giving Sohail Khan his first Test wicket in his second match.

Craig Ervine endured his usual nervous start, but settled in time and was able to see Zimbabwe through to stumps with 38 to his name.

Although the left-hander struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over at a healthy rate, he saw off nine overs of the second new ball to set the hosts up for a renewed push on the second morning.

Greg Lamb will be the next batsman in for Zimbabwe, with the all-rounder making his Test debut after replacing the injured Elton Chigumbura in the side.

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