Pakistan nose ahead on attritional day

On a day when the fortunes of both sides oscillated to and fro, Azhar Ali’s sure-footed unbeaten 81 helped Pakistan to nose ahead at stumps on Day 2 of the second Test against West Indies in Barbados on Monday (May 1). The visitors were 172 for 3, still trailing by 140 runs when play was called off due to bad light.

At the Tea break, the opening duo of Azhar and Ahmed Shehzad (70) had propelled the visitors to a position of strength, with the score reading 106 for no loss. As the batting pair continued to grind down West Indies’ attack, Jason Holder’s worried demeanour on the field suggested that the match was quickly slipping away from their grasp.

It was Devendra Bishoo who ended the threatening stand by inducing Shehzad to edge one to Shai Hope at slip who pouched a sharp chance. Incidentally, in the second session, Shehzad was dismissed twice only to survive on both occasions as Shannon Gabriel and Roston Chase had overstepped. Vishaul Singh had also fluffed a tough chance off the opener at mid-on.

Gabriel then forced Babar Azam (0) to eke out a leading edge, with the sturdy pacer grabbing the caught and bowled chance. With Gabriel’s tendency to bowl front foot no-balls, the third umpire was asked to check whether he had overstepped. However, the fast bowler had his front foot well inside the line and Azam too had to walk back to the pavilion.

Younis Khan didn’t open his account either as he crunched a pull straight into the hands of the midwicket fielder. Azhar and Misbah-ul-Haq calmed down the nerves in the camp to steer the visitors to close of play.

For Pakistan, Azhar yet again showed deep reservoirs of patience to keep the opposition at bay. He struck to the old maxim of playing each ball on its merit and as soon as the bowlers erred in either line or length, he took a heavy toll of it.

Earlier in the day, Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Amir had shared seven spoils between them to bowl out West Indies for 312. The pace duo preyed on unsuspecting batsmen in the channel outside the off-stump to run through the home side’s lower-middle-order.

In the first over of the day, Abbas extracted seam movement to pick up Holder’s scalp. In the very next over, Amir dislodged the centurion, Chase, by tempting him to edge it to the slip cordon. Devendra Bishoo (14) and Alzarri Joseph (8) added useful runs before the hosts were bundled out. Abbas picked up a four-fer while Amir took three scalps.

West Indies put up a spirited show in the final session to pull things back. On Day 3, they will look to make further inroads into Pakistan’s line-up.

Brief scores: West Indies 312 (Roston Chase 131, Jason Holder 58; Mohammad Abbas 4-56, Mohammad Amir 3-65) lead Pakistan 172/3 (Azhar Ali 81*, Ahmed Shehzad 70; Devendra Bishoo 2-53) by 140 runs.

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