Harare, Zimbabwe – Pakistan need 264 to win the second Test against Zimbabwe and sweep the series 2-0 after Rahat Ali claimed five wickets to bowl the home team out for 199 soon after lunch on the fourth day on Friday.
Ali had match-leading figures of 5/52 as Zimbabwe lost wickets quickly on the penultimate day at Harare Sports Club after being 117/1 at one stage on Thursday.
Spinners Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal had two wickets each and Zimbabwe added only 78 runs and lost six wickets in just over a session Friday after being 121/4 overnight.
Captain Brendan Taylor made 27 and wicketkeeper batsman Richmond Mutumbami added 29 but there was little else from the Zimbabwean middle and lower order, leaving Pakistan with a reasonable score to chase and more than a day to get there and win the short series.
Zimbabwe lost three wickets before lunch and another three in less than 10 overs after the break, and despite dogged efforts from Taylor and Mutumbami, couldn't take the game out of Pakistan's reach.
Pakistan will be reasonably confident of chasing down the target with lots of time left in the game, even though they only made 230 in the first innings and even with the Harare pitch starting to show signs of wear and uneven bounce after it was also used for the first Test last week.
After conceding a 64-run first-innings deficit, Pakistan began their fightback late Thursday by taking three wickets in three overs at the end of the third day.
On Friday, Ali continued the momentum and removed Vusi Sibanda for 10 to an edge behind to wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal for Pakistan's early success. Malcolm Waller scooped a catch to Khurram Manzoor off spinner Ajmal soon after for three and Elton Chigumbura also nicked behind off Junaid Khan (1/37) for 156/7.
Taylor dug in, hit two fours and batted through the first session and faced 83 balls in all, but he fell to Ali and Mutumbami was spun out by Ajmal as Zimbabwe didn't quite make it to 200, with Tendai Chatara skying a catch to Akmal for Ali's fifth.
Pakistan won the first Test by 221 runs, leaving Zimbabwe battling to avoid a fifth series defeat in seven since they returned to the five-day format in 2011. Zimbabwe also haven’t beaten anyone other than Bangladesh in a Test match since 2001.
Zimbabwe last beat Pakistan in a Test in November 1998. – Sapa-AP