Obdurate Azhar, Misbah grind awayArchive
BRIDGETOWN: Azhar Ali crawled to within six runs of a hundred as Pakistan reached 226 for three at lunch on the third day of the second Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Tuesday.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was also at his most obdurate as a tedious morning’s play saw the tourists progress by 54 runs off 26 overs from their overnight position without losing a wicket.
Azhar added 11 runs to his total and will resume in the afternoon session on 94 alongside his captain who reached the interval unbeaten on 40 as Pakistan laboured hard in reply to the West Indies first innings total of 312.
Both batsmen found run-scoring extremely difficult on a pitch showing greater signs of wear and offering increasingly variable bounce. Azhar’s occupation of the crease has so far spanned 429 minutes in which he faced 257 deliveries, stroking eight boundaries.
Misbah was also typically watchful, facing 121 balls in 160 minutes in the middle and striking five fours.
West Indies captain Jason Holder summoned the second new ball after the 81st over, and while Shannon Gabriel appeared to have sorted out the no-ball problem which plagued his efforts on the second day, neither he nor the other faster bowlers were able to separate the fourth-wicket pair.
They had come together late on the second day after Pakistan lost three wickets for six runs following an opening stand of 155 between Azhar and Ahmed Shehzad, whose contribution of 70 was notable for him being twice reprieved when dismissed of no-balls apart from also being dropped at the start of his innings.
Azhar and Misbah had put on 65 for the fourth wicket at the interval, their exaggerated caution reflecting an effort to ensure that Pakistan earn a potentially decisive first innings lead.
On Monday West Indies hit back with three wickets in the final hour. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo broke through for the home side by having Shehzad caught at slip before adding the prized scalp of Younis Khan for a duck when the veteran pulled a long-hop to Gabriel at midwicket.
In between those dismissals, Gabriel removed Babar Azam, also without scoring, to a catch off his own bowling. It was no more than the burly fast bowler deserved although his earlier misfortune was compounded by chronic no-ball problems.
Dropped at mid-on by Vishaul Singh just as Pakistan started their reply in the morning session, Shehzad was then ruled LBW off Gabriel when on 21 in the post-lunch period only for the decision to be overturned after television replays determined the delivery to be a no-ball.
Lightning then struck twice for the same man after he was stranded down the pitch and stumped to the bowling of off-spinner Roston Chase on 32, the batsman almost reaching the pavilion when he was summoned by the umpires to return to the crease as the replays again showed the bowler to have transgressed the front crease.
“There was variable bounce out there so it was really difficult to get going, but I have to admit that I had more than my fair share of luck,” said Shehzad. “I can’t give enough credit to Azhar for the way he has played and if he can continue on the third day and help give us a lead, then we have a good chance to win this match and the series.”
WEST INDIES (1st Innings) 312 (R.L. Chase 131, J.O. Holder 58; Mohammad Abbas 4-56, Mohammad Amir 3-65, Yasir Shah 2-83).
PAKISTAN (1st Innings, overnight 172-3):
Azhar Ali not out 94 Ahmed Shehzad c Hope b Bishoo 70 Babar Azam c and b Gabriel 0 Younis Khan c Gabriel b Bishoo 0 Misbah-ul-Haq not out 40
EXTRAS (B-6, LB-6, NB-10) 22
TOTAL (for three wkts, 95 overs) 226
FALL OF WKTS: 1-155, 2-156, 3-161.
TO BAT: Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas.
BOWLING (to-date): Gabriel 26-5-69-1 (9nb); Joseph 17-5-36-0; Chase 12-1-42-0 (1nb); Holder 15-9-10-0; Bishoo 25-9-57-2.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2017