Pakistan build steadily after early strikes

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

Pakistan recovered from a rocky start to grind their way to a strong position, courtesy fifties from Younis Khan and Sami Aslam and a stubborn knock from Misbah-ul-Haq, leading his team for a 49th time. After reeling at 1 for 2 in the first over, Pakistan had steadied by lunch and continued to consolidate their position after lunch, despite the loss of Younis for 51. Aslam and Misbah had added an unbroken … by tea, to leave Pakistan quite comfortably placed at … for …

After Misbah won his third toss of the series and opted to bat yet again, Shannon Gabriel rocked Pakistan with two strikes in the first over. Gabriel dismissed Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq for ducks on a relatively fresh-looking Sharjah surface.

With the pitch offering more pace and carry than expected, Gabriel dismissed Azhar for a first-ball duck off just the second delivery of the match. Banging the ball in short of a length, Gabriel got it to rise awkwardly and leave Azhar a touch, to hit the shoulder of the bat and provide a comfortable catch to Kraigg Brathwaite at second slip. It was the third time Gabriel 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. A good start for West Indies could have been even better had Marlon Samuels hit the stumps from cover after the batsmen set off for a risky run in the second over.

Aslam and Younis then survived a tricky half an hour in which Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph 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.

Misbah took 12 balls to get off the mark as West Indies’ bowlers regained some discipline to build pressure in a tense passage of play. In the over after the drinks break, Misbah had a huge slice of luck when Gabriel struck him on the pad in front of middle and West Indies confidently reviewed the not-out decision. The ball seemed to have missed the bat on its way to the front pad (and then the back pad), but the third umpire evidently felt that the evidence was not conclusive enough to overturn the on-field decision. The ball would have gone on to hit middle, but Misbah survived.

He went on to see off the rest of the second session with Aslam who grew in confidence and fluency over the course of his unbeaten 167-ball 72.

Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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