HARARE: Younis Khan hit a double century as Pakistan wrested control on the fourth day of the first Test against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Friday.
Younis hit 200 not out to enable Pakistan to declare on 419 for nine, setting Zimbabwe an unlikely 342 to win.
Zimbabwe were 13 for one at the close, losing opening batsman Tina Mawoyo in the last over of the day, leg before wicket to Saeed Ajmal.
Off-spinner Ajmal, who took seven for 95 in the first innings, will be the main threat to the Zimbabwe batsmen on the last day on a deteriorating pitch.
It was a monumental performance by Younis, who batted for 10 hours 12 minutes and faced 404 balls, knowing for much of his innings that his side would be in danger of defeat if he was dismissed.
Pakistan were in deep trouble at 23 for three early in his innings. He shared a century partnership with captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Thursday but the tourists were still vulnerable when Asad Shafiq was bowled in the first over on Friday, with Pakistan only 91 ahead with five wickets remaining.
Another century stand, with wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, who made a career-best 64, steered Pakistan towards safety. An unbroken last wicket partnership of 88 with Rahat Ali (35 not out) took the game away from a tiring Zimbabwe team.
Patience was the hallmark of Younis' innings until he cut loose in the last wicket stand, adding his last 51 runs in quick time.
Misbah delayed the declaration, first signalling two more overs as Younis neared a double century, then indicating a further over when Younis was on 194 when the allotted two were complete. Younis hit off- spinner Prosper Utseya to reach the landmark and the declaration was immediate.
It meant Pakistan had only eight overs to bowl at Zimbabwe before the close of play. Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda negotiated the first seven before Mawoyo went back in his crease and missed an Ajmal 'doosra' to be trapped in front of his stumps Run-scoring ground almost to a halt at times before the late flurry.
Zimbabwe, lacking out-and-out strike bowlers, were forced to bowl for containment and the batsmen refused to take risks. In the first hour after lunch, only 18 runs were scored in 15 overs. Just when the tempo started to pick up again Akmal was run out after a mix-up with Younis.
Younis survived a chance when he had 83, edging medium-pacer Hamilton Maskadza low to slip, where Tina Mawoyo was slow to react. He was kept quiet through the nineties but bided his time until he was able to work an over-pitched ball from Tendai Chatara off his toes to the square leg boundary for his 11th four. His 22nd Test century was scored off 221 balls.
On 117, Younis slashed Hamilton Masakadza hard to gully where Malcolm Waller was unable to hold a hard chance.