Tea West Indies 211 for 3 (Bravo 56*, Blackwood 14*, Yasir 2-71) trail Pakistan 579 for 3 dec (Azhar 302*, Aslam 90, Bishoo 2-125) by 368 runs
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Marlon Samuels was strong on the cut and the drive © Getty Images
Having enjoyed the first two days of their 400th Test, piling on runs on another Dubai featherbed, Pakistan were made to toil for their gains on the third day. After removing Kraigg Brathwaite before a run was added to the overnight total, Pakistan came across staunch resistance from Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo in a 113-run stand that injected some much-needed fight into West Indies’ performance.
Samuels made the most of a placid wicket to play some attractive shots en route to a brisk 76 that helped West Indies chip away at Pakistan’s massive first-innings total. Having announced his arrival at the crease with consecutive fours off Yasir Shah, he continued to pepper the off-side boundary with excellent cuts and drives over the course of his innings. Samuels hit 13 fours in all, the best of which was probably an exquisitely timed on drive after skipping to the pitch of a ball from Mohammad Nawaz.
That said, Samuels was not always convincing during his 139-ball stay at the crease. Staying leg side of the ball against the fast bowlers, as is his method, he was rather edgy initially. He had an early slice of luck when an outside edge off Mohammad Amir’s bowling fell short of Babar Azam at second slip. He was also awkward when ducking under the bouncer, often taking his eyes off the ball.
A general lack of foot movement got Samuels into occasional trouble and ultimately led to his downfall. Shortly after tea, he played a loose drive against Wahab, throwing his hands at the ball, and was lucky that the edge did not carry to the wicketkeeper. Eight overs later, Sohail Khan bowled an indipper that wrapped Samuels on the pads in front of middle; Samuels was rooted in the crease and falling over and rightly resisted the temptation to review.
That still left Bravo, who had provided a fine counterpoint to Samuels with his stodgy, resolute defence. Bravo brought up his fifty of 176 balls and seemed content to proceed at that stately pace irrespective of events around him. Apart from edging a slashed cut shot past slip in the first hour, Bravo’s knock was chanceless. He wore down the bowlers with an approach that was solid and patient, if also dour. Jermaine Blackwook survived a couple of big appeals by Yasir to keep Bravo company through to dinner.
Pakistan might have anticipated an easier day, when Yasir dismissed Brathwaite in the second over of the day. He got a flighted delivery to drift into a middle-stump line before turning away slightly to beat Brathwaite’s outside edge and hit off stump. While it was a good ball, it was made to look even better by the batsman, who lunged forward and played down the wrong line.
Thereafter, Samuels and Bravo frustrated the bowlers with their third-wicket stand. Pakistan’s concerns were exacerbated when Nawaz was warned twice for following through in the danger area shortly after tea. They grew further in the next over when Samuels drilled the ball back at Azhar Ali, who took a blow to his right hand and had to go off for treatment. Overall, though, the wicket of Samuels and the measure of control that the bowlers maintained meant that Pakistan could still be pleased with their work in the first two sessions.
Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo