Yasir Shah’s four wickets led Pakistan’s slow but clinical strangulation of West Indies, before their openers stretched a 228-run first-innings lead to 342, leaving them in a dominant position in the Abu Dhabi Test by stumps on the third day. While Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali did not go out of their way to score quickly, the ease with which they milked the bowling contrasted with West Indies’ struggles in the first two sessions of the day.
Aslam departed for 50 late in the day, when third umpire Paul Reiffel made the dubious decision to overturn a not-out decision on a caught-behind appeal. Shannon Gabriel had angled the ball into Aslam’s pads and West Indies believed he got a faint edge as it went down leg to the wicketkeeper. DRS provided only slow-motion replays and the evidence to overturn looked scant, but it was enough to convince Reiffel.
That ended a 93-run opening partnership that had steadily taken the match further and further from West Indies’ reach. Asad Shafiq joined Azhar to take Pakistan to 114 for 1 by the close, a position that looked nigh on impregnable with two days left in the match.
It was an indictment of the ineffectiveness of West Indies’ frontline bowlers that Kraigg Brathwaite, bowling first-change, was the only one who came close to taking a wicket in the first two hours of the innings. In the tenth over, Brathwaite fired in a delivery at 95 kph to beat Azhar’s sweep and induce umpire Michael Gough to raise his finger. But Azhar reviewed immediately and replays indicated the ball had brushed the batsman’s glove. In Brathwaite’s next over, another fired-in delivery thudded into the pads, but not before Sami Aslam had got an inside edge. Umpire Gough raised his finger and West Indies’ hopes, only for Aslam to review successfully.
In the 18th over, Brathwaite was denied yet again, this time by his team-mate. Azhar edged a cut to Jermaine Blackwood at first slip, but the fielder did not even manage to a get a hand on it. He moved to his right, the ball struck his left thigh and a clear chance went down. It was ultimately Gabriel who made the breakthrough, but only after Pakistan’s lead had swelled beyond 300.
Having lost two wickets in the last seven balls on the previous day, West Indies began the third day well behind the game, trailing by 346 in the first innings with four wickets down. Nightwatchman Bishoo might understandably have been carrying a few scars from the second evening, having been involved – and arguably culpable – in the run-out of Kraigg Brathwaite in the last over of the day. But he shrugged all of that off to occupy the crease for a gutsy 66-ball knock that, while not always convincing, helped West Indies repel many of Pakistan’s early efforts.
Bishoo’s overnight partner, Blackwood, departed about half an hour into the session with only 15 runs having been added to the overnight score of 106 for 4. Blackwood took a couple of steps down the track, before playing a loose, half-hearted drive to a Rahat delivery moving away from him; Sarfraz Ahmed collected a good, low catch to his right.
Bishoo struggled against Rahat’s outswing, repeatedly playing and missing outside off stump with no footwork. He got off the mark in his 20th ball with a cross-batted swipe through midwicket off Yasir. His first boundary came off his 50th ball with a similar shot, this time off Zulfiqar Babar. By that stage, Bishoo’s stubborn knock was vexing Pakistan. In Babar’s next over, the bowler went up for a big lbw appeal after Bishoo missed a sweep; Pakistan reviewed the not-out decision, only to find that the impact was just outside off. That exhausted Pakistan’s reviews.
But Bishoo did not last too much longer. He had his off stump floored by Sohail who angled the ball away from the left-hander to beat his outside edge and give Pakistan their second wicket of the morning. Roston Chase and Shai Hope then added 7 off the 49 balls leading into lunch, and added a further 18 after lunch before both fell to Yasir in the space of three overs.
Yasir struck with the first delivery of the second new ball, finding the outside edge of an extravagant drive from Chase with Shafiq completing a sharp catch at second slip. In his next over, Yasir bowled Hope when the batsman missed an attempted pull off a short ball that kept low.
He could have had a third when Jason Holder played an inside-out drive in the air to long-off, where Mohammad Nawaz dropped the catch. Instead, it was Sohail who broke the 19-run ninth-wicket partnership, when he angled a ball across Miguel Cummins to beat the bat and hit off stump, much as he had done to Bishoo earlier in the day. Holder and Gabriel then chipped in with a few lusty blows, before Gabriel holed out to mid-on as West Indies were bowled out for 224.
West Indies had added 118 for 6 over the course of 49.4 overs of attritional cricket, till they were bowled out at the stroke of tea. Pakistan’s solid start in their second innings left West Indies in need of a far better effort when they bat again.
Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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