Pakistan made short work of the West Indies tail before roughing it out with the bat, but they should feel they have had the better time of it in the first session of the third day.
In their second innings, after conceding a 36-run lead, Pakistan shook off the early loss of Imran Butt as Azhar Ali and Abid Ali put together a 55-run stand, before the loss of Azhar on the stroke of lunch brought West Indies back.
In bright sunshine, Shaheen Afridi allowed just two more runs to the West Indies batters before cleaning them up for 253. The prodigious inswing he found was much better directed than anything he had managed the previous day.
Jomel Warrican had his stumps knocked back first, before, on the 16th ball of the day, Joshua Da Silva was trapped dead in front. Part One of Pakistan’s plan had been executed to perfection.
West Indies struck early themselves after the changeover, getting rid of the struggling Butt for nought as he pushed his pad out at one that was crashing into middle stump.
Thereafter, though, Abid and Azhar settled down, seeing off the pace bowlers without much trouble. Abid looked to take the attack to Jayden Seales early on, smashing him for two off-side boundaries with shots that showed more intent than he had displayed in the first innings. When Warrican came on, he danced down the pitch to deposit the ball over his head for the first six of the match; it was the shot that erased Pakistan’s deficit.
Azhar was more circumspect, and more uncertain through the early part of his innings. He found the fifth-stump line targeted as the pacers tested his footwork and his judgment, with the outside edge beaten on a number of occasions. When Kemar Roach finally induced the edge, Jason Holder put him down at second slip. Azhar followed it up with two aggressive boundaries either side of the wicket off Warrican as the shackles began to come off.
Roach, however, had the last laugh in the last over before lunch, bringing one back in sharply to breach Azhar’s defence and crash into his leg stump. It was a wicket West Indies needed desperately, and a match that has swayed both ways multiple times is finely poised once more. Brathwaite ran himself out for 97 but the West Indies captain’s typically obdurate innings worked his team into a potentially useful first innings lead over Pakistan on day two of the first Test at Sabina Park on Friday.
With support from former skipper Jason Holder (58) in a pivotal sixth-wicket partnership of 96, the home side rallied from the discomfort of 100 for five to 251 for eight at stumps, a lead of 34 runs with two wickets in hand going into the third day.
Starting the morning with his team already in trouble at two for two, replying to the tourists’ first day total of 217, Brathwaite played his favourite sheet-anchor role to perfection.
The phlegmatic opener put on 50 with overnight partner Roston Chase (21) for the third wicket, followed immediately by a stand of 49 with Jermaine Blackwood.
However Blackwood’s demise to Shaheen Shah Afridi was followed next ball by the dismissal of Kyle Mayers, tilting the balance of the contest Pakistan’s way.—AFP