Pakistan batsman Mohammad Hafeez celebrates after scoring a century on the third day of the Test match against Zimbabwe at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on September 3, 2011. (AP Photo)
Bulawayo: Opener Mohammad Hafeez struck a commanding century on Saturday as Pakistan reached 357-5 in a first-innings fightback against Zimbabwe on the third day of the one-off Test.
Azhar Ali (75), Younis Khan (61 not out) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (66) all scored half-centuries as Pakistan ended the day 55 runs behind Zimbabwe's first innings of 412 at Queens Sports Club.
Resuming on 79, Hafeez accelerated with fluent stroke-play to reach 119 before falling cheaply to part-time seamer Hamilton Masakadza on the stroke of lunch.
Hafeez faced 117 balls for his third Test century and smashed 19 boundaries and a six, sharing an 188-run second-wicket stand with Azhar, who hit 11 boundaries.
The 30-year-old Hafeez was dropped twice — on 10 by Brendan Taylor on the second day and then by bowler Chris Mpofu 21 runs before his century.
"Our plan was just to bat once, but that has failed, so we are now looking at getting a lead of 100 runs and hopefully we won't need to chase a lot," Azhar said. "The wicket was really slow and it kept getting slower and slower as the day progressed but it was good to bat on and the only way of getting out was getting yourself out."
Ray Price was the most economical Zimbabwe bowler, conceding just 39 runs from 34 overs, including 18 maidens, while off-spinner Greg Lamb took 3-85, removing Azhar, Misbah-ul- Haq and Umar Akmal (15).
Price dismissed chances of a draw as the Test enters the fourth day on Sunday.
"We are definitely playing for a win and I don't think that a draw can be achieved on this wicket because it's already breaking up; you could see some puffs of dust," Price said. "But that will depend on how they will bat in the morning."
Zimbabwe's opening bowling pair of Brian Vitori and Kyle Jarvis, who contributed hugely on his Test debut to Zimbabwe's 130-run win over Bangladesh last month, have struggled against Pakistan.
"They are still very young and learning," Price said. "The wicket was flat as a table, which is different to the one in Harare where they enjoyed some success."