For the first hour of play today, West Indies replicated Pakistan’s run-scoring model from the second day. They meandered along at a scoring rate of well less than two. Then there was a brief surge before Yasir Shah hit back with three wickets even as West Indies tried to attack to him. When lunch was taken, West Indies, resuming on 14 without loss, were tottering on 97 for 3.
Resolute defence from Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieron Powell – who registered West Indies’ highest opening partnership of the series – kept them at bay initially. It didn’t help Pakistan that the pitch was slow and the ball hardly moved, and batting looked easy, if not exciting.
The session came to life when Powell decided to take the attack to Yasir. After shuffling across and sweeping him to the vacant square leg boundary, he dragged a lofted hit to Azhar Ali at deep midwicket. Shimron Hetmyer came out with the same plan of not allowing Yasir to settle.
He drove Yasir for a boundary in the first over he faced him. Soon after, he dispatched a short delivery for six over deep midwicket. But the wily legspinner had the last laugh again, getting one to turn in sharply from the rough, kissing Hetmyer’s gloves with Sarfraz Ahmed taking a sharp catch. Pakistan may have not had the wicket had Sarfraz not confidently signalled for a review almost the moment umpire Bruce Oxenford adjudged not out.
Even so, West Indies still looked for scoring opportunities off Yasir, who conceded more than half the runs of the entire innings. It wasn’t that he was bowling poorly – a lot of his balls were perfect legspinners with sharp turn – but his consistency deserted him, prompting a rare reprimand from his captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Yet, it didn’t seem like he was far away from a wicket either.
That duly arrived in the last over before lunch when Brathwaite, who looked fairly comfortable up until then, jabbed at a delivery that spun away sharply to take the edge through to the wicketkeeper. The deadlock of the first hour was well and truly broken by then.
Azhar Ali’s 14th Test century anchored Pakistan to a first innings total of 376 as the tourists batted with exaggerated care on the second day of the third and final Test against the West Indies on Thursday.
Left to negotiate 11 overs to the close of play at Windsor Park in Dominica, the West Indies reached 14 without loss in reply.
Pakistan’s innings occupied all of 146.3 overs at a scoring rate of just over two-and-a-half runs per over, a puzzlingly pedestrian rate of progress on a benign pitch, especially as victory would give Pakistan their first-ever Test series win in the Caribbean in eight attempts.
After crawling along in the morning session, when only 58 runs came off 28 overs in two-and-a-half hours of play for the loss of Younis Khan’s wicket, the tourists attempted to accelerate with captain Misbah-ul-Haq releasing the shackles of virtual strokelessness in getting to 59. Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed was by far the most enterprising of all in the Pakistan batting line-up though, being ninth out for 51 off 73 balls.
“We wanted to get over 400 but losing wickets in the afternoon caused us to lose a bit of momentum,” Ahmed explained after the day’s play.
“I just went out there with a positive intent, looking to put the bowlers off and keep the score moving along.”—AFP