Hope’s wicket gives Pakistan the edge


West Indies v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Roseau, 3rd day

Tea West Indies 152 for 4 (Chase 41*, Yasir 3-81) trail Pakistan 376 (Azhar 127, Misbah 59, Azam 55, Sarfraz 51, Chase 4-103) by 224 runs


A wicket off the last ball of the second session – by Azhar Ali, of all people – meant Pakistan could claim a share of a session that had until then belonged to the West Indies.

After a brief spurt, West Indies reverted to the rate of scoring we’ve come to expect over the last couple of days. Roston Chase and Shai hope duly dug in, scoring just 55 runs in the session, but Hope’s wicket off the session’s final delivery will significantly sour the mood in the hosts’ dressing room.

Shai Hope and Roston Chase frustrated Pakistan for most parts of the second session (AFP photo)

On a placid track where the seamers had to put in extra effort to generate any sort of wicket-taking threat, West Indies frustrated Pakistan at every turn, not giving them any cause for optimism or encouragement. As in the first session, it was impossible to ignore the feeling that that the game was moving on from the other end while Yasir was bowling.

Expensive initially, he was also the closest to breaking the partnership, and unfortunate to be denied once against each batsman. Chase was given out caught, only for the decision to be overturned on review as replays indicated the ball may have struck his back thigh instead, while Asad Shafiq dropped a sharp catch at short point to reprieve Hope.

It might not have amused Yasir to see the West Indies accord far more respect to Azhar when he was brought on for four overs, neither batsman freeing his arms at even the part timer’s gentlest offerings.

To not mention the quicker bowlers more would be doing them a disservice, even though they had no wickets to show for their exertions. Hasan Ali was excellent on debut, pitching consistently on a good length and getting the ball to tail back in, while Mohammad Amir’s grunts could comfortably be heard over the stump microphone.

West Indies had started the day in sedate fashion in the face of disciplined bowling from Pakistan, and meandered along at a scoring rate well below two to the over with only one boundary coming in the first 25 overs. But Yasir popped up with three wickets even as the West Indies took the attack to him, scoring 94 by the time lunch was called.

The Test came to life when Powell decided to take the attack to Yasir. After shuffling across and sweeping him to the vacant square leg boundary, he dragged a lofted hit to Azhar Ali at deep midwicket. Shimron Hetmyer came out with the same plan of not allowing Yasir to settle.

He drove Yasir for a boundary in the first over he faced him. Soon after, he dispatched a short delivery for six over deep midwicket. But the wily legspinner had the last laugh again, getting one to turn in sharply from the rough, kissing Hetmyer’s gloves with Sarfraz Ahmed taking a sharp catch. Pakistan may have not had the wicket had Sarfraz not confidently signalled for a review almost the moment umpire Bruce Oxenford adjudged not out.

Even so, West Indies still looked for scoring opportunities off Yasir, who conceded more than half the runs of the entire innings. It wasn’t that he was bowling poorly – a lot of his balls were perfect legspinners with sharp turn – but his consistency deserted him, prompting a rare reprimand from his captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Yet, it didn’t seem like he was far away from a wicket either.

That duly arrived in the last over before lunch when Brathwaite, who looked fairly comfortable up until then, jabbed at a delivery that spun away sharply to take the edge through to the wicketkeeper. The deadlock of the first hour was well and truly broken by then.

Just as with the last ball before lunch, however, the final delivery of the afternoon session meant Pakistan would have enjoyed a nice cup of tea far more than the West Indies would have. (ESPNCricinfo)

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo.



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