BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Three wickets in the final session helped West Indies claw their way back after three earlier blemishes had put Pakistan firmly in control of the second Test at Kensington Oval here Monday.
Replying to West Indies’ first innings of 312 all out, Pakistan finished the second day of the pivotal contest on 172 for three – 140 runs adrift of the lead. Prolific opener Azhar Ali was already in sight of triple figures unbeaten on 81 and was partnered by captain Misbah-ul-Haq on seven.
Right-handed opener Ahmed Shehzad lived a charmed life for his 70, benefitting from three chances before becoming one of two wickets to fall to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo who finished with two for 53.
The Caribbean side had earlier squandered the opportunity to build a sizeable first innings lead when they lost their last four wickets for 26 runs to be dismissed for 312, 65 minutes before lunch.
Disappointingly, neither overnight batsmen – century-maker Roston Chase nor captain Jason Holder – managed to add to their scores, falling within the first nine balls of the morning.
Holder, unbeaten on 58 at the start, perished to the day’s third delivery when he edged one from seamer Mohammad Abbas and was caught by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
Six balls later in the following over, Chase edged left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir low to Younis Khan at second slip, to depart for 131.
The tail folded quickly with Bishoo (14) and Alzarri Joseph (8) providing little resistance.
Abbas picked up two of the wickets to fall to finish with four for 56 while Amir claimed three for 65 and leg-spinner Yasir Shah, two for 83.
In the 14 overs available before lunch, West Indies muffed their only chance to get an early breakthrough as Pakistan worked their way to 36 without loss at the break.
Shehzad had made three with the score on five when he chipped fast bowler Shannon Gabriel loosely to mid-on where Vishal Singh was slow off the mark and grassed the low offering in the third over.
West Indies also had only themselves to blame in the following session as Shehzad was twice let-off through no-balls as he and Azhar put on 155 for the first wicket.
Having reached 21 an hour after lunch with the score on 57, Shehzad played around one from Gabriel which came back and was adjudged lbw, only for replays to show the Trinidadian had over-stepped.
Fortune continued to shine on Shehzad. On 32, he charged off-spinner Roston Chase 10 minutes before tea, missed and was stumped by Shane Dowrich but again, replays revealed an illegal delivery.
The let-offs meant Pakistan reached tea safely on 106 without loss and they batted through the next hour without alarm to further frustrate West Indies.
Azhar, who completed his 26th Test half-century in the fourth over before tea when he swept Bishoo to the square boundary, has so far faced 193 deliveries in a shade over five hours at the crease and counted seven fours.
Shehzad, unbeaten at tea on 40, reached his fourth Test half-century 20 minutes after the resumption and had faced 191 balls in just over four hours and struck eight fours, when his luck finally ran out.
An hour from the close, he prodded forward to one from Bishoo which spun, took the edge and carried low to slip where Shai Hope grasped the offering.
His dismissal triggered a slide for Pakistan where three wickets tumbled in the space of 23 balls.
In the following over, Babar Azam got a leading edge back to Gabriel to fall without scoring at 156 for two and 20 balls later, veteran outstanding right-hander Younis Khan also fell for nought, pulling a long hop from Bishoo to Gabriel at short mid-wicket.