Tea Pakistan 148 for 3 (Aslam 72*, Misbah 18*, Gabriel 2-39) v West Indies
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Sami Aslam looked increasingly assured as his innings progressed © Getty Images
After reeling at 1 for 2 in the first over, Pakistan were able to grind their way into a strong position with half-centuries from Younis Khan and Sami Aslam in the Sharjah Test. They went to tea at 148 for 3. West Indies wouldn’t give away the advantage without a fight though. They dismissed Younis for 51 and could have had Misbah-ul-Haq lbw for 6 had DRS gone their way.
In 43rd over, Shannon Gabriel appealed for an lbw against the Pakistan captain. It was ruled not out, but West Indies went for a review. The ball, pitched full on off stump, seemed to have missed the bat on its way to strike Misbah’s front pad in front of middle stump. Then it hit the back pad, creating two noises and therefore doubt in the on-field umpire’s mind. Those selfsame doubts forced Ray Illingworth, the third umpire, to rule in favour of the batsman. There was no snicko or HotSpot to help in the deliberations.
The West Indies dressing room was bewildered by the decision. Gabriel was aggrieved. He was the major threat to Pakistan since the start of the day, when they chose to bat and lost two wickets in the very first over.
With the Sharjah pitch offering more pace and carry than expected, Gabriel dismissed Azhar Ali for a first-ball duck with a ball that climbed awkwardly on the batsman and seamed away a touch to take his outside edge through to second slip. It was the third time that Gabriel has dismissed Azhar in the series.
Two balls later, Gabriel nipped one back into Shafiq to beat his bat and hit his pad. It looked like it may have been going down leg, but West Indies reviewed Paul Reiffel’s not-out decision and Hawk-Eye showed it hitting enough of leg stump to send the batsman on his way. West Indies could have had more success had Marlon Samuels, fielding at cover, hit the stumps at the keeper’s end after Younis set off for a risky run in the second over. Aslam would have been dismissed without facing a ball. He was 72 not out at tea.
Aslam and Younis then survived a tricky half an hour in which Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph, who replaced Miguel Cummins in the West Indies XI, worked up appreciable pace and bounce. But, as the batsmen settled in, they played some lovely shots and profited from the increasingly frequent loose balls from West Indies. Younis timed a half-volley through midwicket for a boundary and followed that up with a gorgeous cover drive a few overs later. Aslam played a beautiful drive through mid-off and unleashed a number of sweeps and slog sweeps.
West Indies would also rue a couple of missed chances off Younis in the 22nd over. Younis flicked a full ball from Roston Chase in the air towards midwicket, where Leon Johnson, still wearing a helmet from his stint at a close-in position, dropped it after a diving effort. Two balls later, Younis gave the charge but missed a leg-side delivery; wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich fumbled the ball in his haste to effect the stumping and Younis dived in safely.
But Chase eventually got Younis, in the 11th over after lunch, when the batman top-edged an attempted sweep to square leg, where Johnson made amends for his earlier drop. Younis had slog swept a similar delivery for a six over midwicket in Chase’s previous over. This ball, though, was a bit shorter, a bit straighter and bounced a bit more, which was enough to draw the error.
Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo