Zimbabwe appeared to turn their frustration from an ongoing pay dispute on to Pakistan in restricting the visitors to 249-9 on the first day of the first test on Tuesday.
Fast bowlers Tinashe Panyangara (3-71), Shingi Masakadza (2-40) and Tendai Chatara (2-64) shared seven wickets and offspinner Prosper Utseya got the key scalp of captain Misbah-ul-Haq (53).
Azhar Ali top-scored with 78 including nine fours before he was caught by Vusi Sibanda, who took three catches in the slips.
Tailenders Saeed Ajmal (49 not out) and Junaid Khan (17) added an invaluable 67 runs before Khan was dismissed in the last over of the day.
Ajmal dominated the ninth-wicket stand by hitting six fours and a six, but he will be hoping last man Rahat Ali survives the last ball of Panyangara's over on Wednesday to have a crack at a half century.
Zimbabwe took the field only after the Zimbabwe Union agreed to clear the players' dues before the second test next week. However, middle-order batsman Sean Williams preferred to wait for his dues to be cleared and opted out of the test.
Earlier, stand-in Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza won the toss and elected to field first after regular captain Brendan Taylor had to be with his wife, who gave birth recently.
The decision paid off within the first hour when Pakistan lost three wickets for just 27 runs.
Mohammad Hafeez, man of the series in Pakistan's 2-1 victory in the one-day internationals last week, pushed at Chatara's delivery which got some extra bounce and edged to Sibanda for Zimbabwe's first breakthrough in the seventh over.
Hafeez was declared fit from a hamstring injury which he sustained during Pakistan's 108-run victory over Zimbabwe in the third and decisive one-dayer.
Panyangara then had Khurram Manzoor (11) — playing his first test match after three years — leg before wicket and clean bowled the experienced Younis Khan (3) in successive overs to have Pakistan in trouble.
Ali resurrected Pakistan's innings with a 93-run stand with Misbah before Sibanda pulled out a brilliant catch at short midwicket off a mistimed drive. Misbah hit seven boundaries and faced 94 balls before he tried a reckless stroke to make it 120-4.
Asad Shafiq also gifted his wicket after lunch when he charged down the track off Utseya's tossed up delivery and gave a simple catch to Tino Mawoyo at backward short leg as the ball brushed off the batsman's pads off an inside edge as Pakistan progressed to 156-5 at tea.
Just when it looked like Ali could get a century after tea, he played a rash stroke like Misbah did after lunch and chased a wide delivery of Masakdaza to Sibanda at second slip.
Ajmal's assault helped Pakistan hit back late in the day as the tailender hit two exquisite drives to the boundary off Panyangara.