Younis, Misbah assert Pakistan dominance

Tea Pakistan 205 for 3 (Younis 84*, Misbah 35*) v West Indies
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Younis Khan’s unbeaten 84 contained seven fours and a six © AFP

Half-centuries from Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan lifted Pakistan to a solid 205 for 3 after they lost both openers early on day one of the second Test against West Indies. From an uneasy 42 for 2 in good batting conditions, Pakistan roused themselves with positive intent from their third- and fourth-wicket pairs, as Younis put on 87 with Shafiq and an unbroken 76 with Misbah-ul-Haq.

West Indies missed a chance to dismiss Younis in the last over of the second session, Kraigg Brathwaite failing to hold on to a return catch off a firmly-hit flat-bat drive. He survived, and went to tea batting on 84, with Misbah alongside him on 35.

Having chosen to bat first, Pakistan lost their first wicket in the fifth over of the morning, Azhar Ali playing on while looking to drive Shannon Gabriel through the covers, the ball nipping in a little and not quite coming on to the bat. Walking in at No. 3, Shafiq got going almost immediately, rising to his toes to cut Gabriel for four off the second ball he faced. In the next over, he punished another short ball, this time swivelling to pull Miguel Cummins through square leg.

Shafiq continued to play his shots, moving confidently forward to ease drives through the covers and nimbly back to cut and pull deliveries from Devendra Bishoo that were only marginally short. As he sparkled at one end, Sami Aslam played a strange innings at the other. He seldom got the strike, and barely scored any runs when he did, while not looking particularly troubled by any of West Indies’ bowlers. By the end of the 13th over, he was batting on 6 off 28 balls and Shafiq on 32 off 44. Then, off the second ball of the 14th over, he looked to drive Bishoo through the covers, against the turn, and was bowled through the gate by a dipping legbreak.

In walked Younis, back in the side after missing the first Test to recover from a bout of dengue fever. He got an early freebie from Bishoo, wide and overpitched, to smear through the covers, but that was his only boundary in the 62 balls he faced before lunch, as West Indies tightened their lines and lengths. There was little in the conditions to challenge either batsman – only one ball turned really sharply, Roston Chase forcing Shafiq to defend hurriedly after shaping to cut – and Younis moved safely to 29 without always looking at ease.

His shuffle across the crease caused him a couple of uneasy moments: Cummins found his leading edge while he tried to work through the leg side, and Jason Holder got him to nick the ball when he moved across rather than forward, towards the ball in defence, but both balls fell safely short of fielders.

Soon after lunch, Younis nearly played on to Cummins; defending firmly into the pitch, he had to stretch his left foot out to kick the ball away as it rolled back towards the stumps. But he grew increasingly comfortable at the crease after that, and took heavy toll of the spinners, in all scoring 59 of his runs against Chase, Bishoo and Brathwaite, at a strike rate of 72.84. Against the quicks, he made 25 runs at 36.23. There wasn’t much help for the spinners from the pitch, but both Chase and Bishoo made lives difficult for themselves by frequently dropping short or overpitching.

Gabriel bowled a good spell after lunch, dismissing Shafiq, who chopped on while trying to force him away through the covers off the back foot, and then found a bit of reverse swing to beat both of Misbah’s edges. But Holder took him off after only three overs. Younis and Misbah went after the spinners thereafter, between them hitting Bishoo for three big sixes as he went for 40 in an eight-over spell.

Younis replaced Babar Azam in Pakistan’s side. They also rested fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, bringing in Rahat Ali and the left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar in their place. The inclusion of Babar gave them an extra spinner apart from Yasir Shah and Mohammad Nawaz. West Indies made one change, Shai Hope replacing the wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, who pulled up injured while warming up.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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