Fuelled by a robust innings from Kraigg Brathwaite (55 not out), West Indies made an encouraging start and were relatively well placed at 86 for 2 in pursuit of 456 at Tea on Day 4 of the second Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday (October 24)
After Pakistan eventually declared their second innings at 227 for 2 during the Lunch break to set an imposing target, Brathwaite batted without theatrics. However, he lost his partner Leon Johnson (9) to an ill-advised sweep shot off Yasir Shah in the eighth over.
It was at that juncture of the match when Brathwaite decided to adopt a more enterprising approach – with punches, drives and lofts to get a move on. With a healthy dose of style and substance, he chipped down the track to whip Yasir against the turn in the sixth over. He also waltzed down the track to loft Zulfiqar Babar for a six. Brathwaite soon reached his fifty in 71 deliveries. It was refreshing to watch Brathwaite play with a sense of purpose. Darren Bravo, on the other hand, milked the spinners around and chose calculation over taking undue risks.
Just when it looked like the second session could turn out to be a confidence-booster for the bruised and battered Caribbean outfit, Bravo threw his wicket away. Rahat Ali bowled a short and wide delivery, but the Trinidadian could only cut it straight into the hands of Mohammad Nawaz placed at backward point.
The elegant left-hander has been criticised quite a few times during his Test career for getting out to soft dismissals. That wicket of Bravo pegged back West Indies to some extent. However, the think-tank would be pleased with the positive approach employed by the batsmen.
At the start of the day, the hosts continued to grind West Indies down as Azhar Ali (79) and Asad Shafiq (58 not out) extended the lead to 455 before Misbah-ul-Haq declared the innings.
After sharing a stand of 71 for the second wicket with Shafiq, Azhar finally fell to a nicely set trap by Jason Holder. Miguel Cummins ushered in a delivery wide of off-stump and Azhar could only flash it into the hands of the West Indies captain stationed at floater slip. It was Cummins’s first wicket of the series.
Once Azhar was dislodged, Shafiq looked to up the tempo by getting to the pitch of the ball to whip Devendra Bishoo to the fence. He soon reached his 17th Test fifty with a nicely placed steer off Roston Chase.
In the evening session, Yasir, Pakistan’s trump card, should be able to get the older ball to grip and turn. It would be interesting to see how the duo of Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels handle him.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 452 (Younis Khan 127, Misbah-ul-Haq 96; Shannon Gabriel 5-96) and 227 for 2 decl. (Azhar Ali 79, Asad Shafiq 58*; Miguel Cummins 1-26) lead West Indies 224 (Darren Bravo 43; Yasir Shah 4-86) and 86 for 2 (Kraigg Brathwaite 55*; Rahat Ali 1-14) by 369 runs.