KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – High quality half-centuries from Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich averted catastrophe for West Indies and helped the Caribbean side make a strong finish to the opening day of the first Test against Pakistan here Friday.
Slumping at 71 for five in the first over after lunch, the Windies battled their way back to end on 244 for seven, with Chase carving out 63 and Dowrich getting 56.
Together, they put on 118 for the sixth wicket, limiting Pakistan to the single wicket in the post-lunch session and repairing an innings which threatened to come apart at the seams after the untested batted line-up found itself exposed.
Even when Chase and Dowrich perished in successive deliveries on the stroke of the final hour, captain Jason Holder arrived to stroke a breezy 33-ball unbeaten 30, in an entertaining, unbroken 55-run eighth-wicket stand with Devendra Bishoo, which allowed West Indies to dominate the back end of the day.
The left-handed Bishoo chanced his hand in an unbeaten 23 from 35 balls, a knock that has so far included a four and a six.
Left-arm fast bowler Mohammed Amir was the best bowler, using friendly swing conditions early on to finish with three for 28 while leg-spinner Yasir Shah picked up two for 91.
On the occasion of the 50th Test at the historic venue, West Indies made a nightmare start, crashing to 53 for four half-hour before lunch as Amir sliced through the top order.
His new-ball partner Mohammad Abbas struck with only his second ball in Test cricket in the second over of the morning when he removed Kraigg Brathwaite without scoring to a catch by Younis Khan at second slip with a single run on the board.
Debutant Shimron Hetmyer struck two boundaries in scoring 11 but never settled and lost his off-stump to one from Amir that jagged back in the ninth over at 24 for two.
Shai Hope fell for two in similar fashion to leave West Indies in deeper trouble, playing back to one from Amir that also came back sharply and losing his off-stump spectacularly.
Left-hander Vishal Singh, also handed a debut with hometown boy Jermaine Blackwood dropped, failed to impress and spent 20 deliveries over nine before clipping an innocuous ball from left-armer Wabab Riaz low to square leg where Azhar Ali took a simple catch.
Kieran Powell, who made a patient 33 off 71 balls with two fours, then paired with Chase to steer West Indies to the safety of lunch at 71 for four.
Amir, however, stunned West Indies in the first over following the break when he got the leaden-footed Powell to spar at a wide ball and edge to Younis Khan at second slip, without any addition to the score.
Staring down the barrel, West Indies were rescued by Chase and Dowrich, both of whom played positively to take the embattled side to tea at 143 without further loss.
The right-handed Chase, who scored his maiden Test hundred at Sabina Park nine months ago, faced 151 deliveries and counted seven fours and a six while Dowrich, who was more sedate, struck nine boundaries off 130 balls.
Chase played positively against both pace and spin and took a particular liking to leg-spinner Yasir Shah, stroking him for a couple of off-side boundaries before lifting him straight for six.
Unbeaten on 47 at tea, he raised his second Test half-century, 17 minutes after tea when he worked Abbas to backward square for a single.
Fellow Barbadian Dowrich, on 27 at tea, brought up his fifth half-century in his ninth Test – 50 minutes after the break – when he slammed Amir to the ropes at extra cover.
Both perished in the next over, however. Chase tried to clear the ropes at long-off and was brilliantly held in the deep by Wahab Riaz running back and diving. And off the very next ball, Dowrich missed a casual drive and was bowled, leaving the Windies to start over.
But any hopes Pakistan had of running through the tail were scuppered as Holder and Bishoo scored quickly to put them on the back foot.
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
K Brathwaite c Younis Khan b Mohammad Abbas 0
K Powell c Younis Khan b Mohammad Amir 33
S Hetmyer b Mohammad Amir 11
S Hope b Mohammad Amir 2
V Singh c Azhar Ali b Wahab Riaz 9
R Chase c Wahab Riaz b Yasir Shah 63
+S Dowrich b Yasir Shah 56
*J Holder not out 30
D Bishoo not out 23
Extras (lb17) 17
TOTAL (7 wkts, 81 overs) 244
To bat: A Joseph, S Gabriel
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Brathwaite), 2-24 (Hetmyer), 3-32 (Hope), 4-53 (Singh), 5-71 (Powell), 6-189 (Chase), 7-189 (Dowrich)
Bowling: Mohammad Amir 19-9-28-3, Mohammad Abbas 17-4-42-1, Wahab Riaz 21-4-66-1, Yasir Shah 24-5-91-2
PAKISTAN – Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Abbas.
Umpires: R Illingworth, R Kettleborough; TV – B Oxenford.