Abbas five-for, lower-order resilience set Pakistan up for series win

After three lugging days of cricket, the decider of the three-match Test series gained considerable clip when Mohammad Abbas put out on display gripping images of Pakistan’s rich folklore – the ability to bowl toe-crushing yorkers at a searing pace. That allowed the visitors to outmuscle the hosts with a substantial 129-run lead, before declaring at the fag end of the day with a 303-run lead, which came on the back of some brilliant rearguard action from the lower-order. Pakistan’s batting lore, though, was left poorer after the two stalwarts, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, walked into the sunset without entertaining their uncountable fans with one final batting show. In the end, the hosts played out a quizzing passage of play, blocking out the aggressive Pakistan bowlers till losing Kieran Powell at the very end to finish the day on 7 for 1.

The penultimate day began with Mohammad Amir rattling the defenses of Shane Dowrich, as early as the first over of the day. West Indies wouldn’t have bothered as much then, since the following sight was of their in-form batsman Roston Chase walking out to bat, having retired hurt on 60 on Day 3. Pakistan had other ideas as skipper Misbah was quick to bring in Mohammad Abbas, who infused pace in the game with some of his own. The right-arm paceman went on to bag four wickets in three overs – two in his first – to bowl the hosts out for just 247 runs, securing a more than handy lead for his side.

Pakistan’s reply started off in a rather shoddy manner, losing two wickets before Lunch. Younis Khan had walked out for one final time, trying to bail them out of immediate trouble. Although, the stalwart wasn’t at his fluent best, he did manage to strike two boundaries in quick time to redeem himself from the early hiccups in the innings. Shan Masood’s dismissal brought the other retiring legend, Misbah, to the crease and together they made for the most perfect picture of the day, if not the most perfect scoring ways for a change.

While Misbah was the first to depart by miscuing a slog sweep, Younis followed him soon after with a sweep shot of his own. The latter fell to a stunning catch by Kieran Powell at short fine leg, and it made sense as it could have been only something stunning to end such a magnificent career.

Both the legends quickly slipped into the sunset but not without leaving innumerable imageries of rousing cricket memories. Their fight was pursued by lower-order batsmen Yasir and Amir, who put on a 50-plus stand to swell the visitors’ lead past the 300-run mark. While Amir got dismissed late in the day, Yasir smashed a few shots to raise his highest Test score.

Misbah’s declaration with a lead of 303 seemed a little late, but the wicket of Powell late in the day, more importantly off the bowling Yasir Shah, gave them the impetus needed heading into the final day. The West Indies openers had managed to be safe till six overs of their existence at the crease, but ended up being sorry when Powell prodded at a Yasir delivery, to be brilliantly grabbed by Masood at silly point. Pakistan remain nine wickets away on the final day, from gifting Younis and Misbah a fitting farewell.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 376 & 174/8 decl. (Yasir Shah 38*, Younis Khan 35, Shan Masood 21; Alzarri Joseph 3-53) lead West Indies 247 & 7/1 (Kraigg Brathwaite 3*, Kieran Powell 4, Yasir Shah 1-2) by 297 runs.

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