Younis, Babar century-stand puts Pakistan in command

It took Younis Khan 47 minutes to get off the mark and 84 balls to move from 22 to 26, which he did via a sweep off Roston Chase. However, once he did that, he jumped and punched the air, before going on a celebratory run towards the pavilion. Those four runs helped him become the first Pakistani and the 13th batsman overall to reach the 10,000 run-mark in Test cricket.

It’s been a long journey, took 17 years coming. It wasn’t the easiest of rides with fixing scandals, terrorists attacks in the country and the internal politics of the board often overshadowing the cricket on the field. So much so that in 2008, he didn’t play a single Test and since the attack on the touring Sri Lankan bus, didn’t play in Pakistan. Nonetheless, he continued to score runs everywhere and became the only batsman to register a century in 11 Test playing nations.

Coming into the series against West Indies, he had announced that it will be his last for Pakistan, and with the landmark closing in, he didn’t take any chance on delaying it. He started off over-cautiously and cut off all risky shots from his game. He was batting on 22 when Tea was taken, but he surpassed that early in the final session on the third day at the Sabina Park.

The game, in many ways, has lost relevance with rain and wet outfield allowing for only 173.2 overs in three days. To make matters worse, thunderstorms are predicted for the next two days. How much cricket will be played remains unknown.

Even on Sunday (April 23), with the play set to start half an hour early to compensate for the loss of overs, couldn’t happen due to wet outfield. On the contrary, it started half an hour late. Fortunately, no play was lost across three sessions.

Mohammad Amir bowled a beautiful inswinger to breach the gap between Shannon Gabriel’s bat and pad to uproot the middle stump and end West Indies’ innings early on 286.

Even as only 92.3 overs were bowled in the first two days, the nature of the pitch had changed considerably due to rain. It had become slow and needed a cautious approach. Pakistan openers Ahmed Shehzad and Azhar Ali began positively, but found themselves back in the pavilion in the first session itself. While Azhar went for an unwanted slash outside offstump to edge the ball to the keeper, Shehzad, on his return match, was trapped legbefore by Jason Holder.

Younis Khan and Babar Azam steadied the innings with a ultra-cautious approach anyone, before breaking free once Younis brought up his 10000 runs. Both the batsmen registered their respective half centuries – third for Azam and 33rd for Younis – and added 131 runs for the third wicket. The duo were helped by some erratic bowling by the West Indian pacers, who were all over the place with their line and length. Legspinner Devendra Bishoo got considerable turn, but the batsmen played him out with ease.

The umpiring too wasn’t at its best as the pacers, time and again overstepped in their delivery stride, but at least on four occasions, the umpires didn’t spot it.

Younis and Azam fell in quick succession to Shannon Gabriel, the most impressive of the West Indian pacer, to help the hosts get back into the contest. While the veteran chipped the ball to Kraigg Brathwaite, the latter was out bowled.

Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq played out 35 balls each and scored a total of 10 runs between them in what proved to be a testing 45 minutes of play. The duo struggled to middle the ball and find gaps, but safely saw their side through to Stumps with the scoreboard reading 201 for 4, trailing by 85 runs.

Brief Scores: West Indies 286 (Roston Chase 63, Jason Holder 57*, Shane Dowrich 56; Mohammad Amir 6-44) lead Pakistan 201/4 (Babar Azam 72, Younis Khan 58; Jason Holder 1-29, Shannon Gabriel 2-37) by 85 runs

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