Pakistan set West Indies stiff target

The pendulum of power that bobbed in Pakistan's favour for the best part of the Sharjah Test wobbled gingerly towards the West Indies before swinging firmly back the way of the favourites on the fourth day of the Test match at the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium. Resuming on 325/5, the West Indies inched their way to 362/5 before being blown away by Waqar Younis. The speedster and Pakistan's skipper claimed four wickets for nine runs in the space of 29 balls and scuttled the shell-shocked Windies out for 366. With a lead of 127, Pakistan then went hammer and tongs, reaching 214/6 declared in 57.4 overs for an overall lead of 341.

The West Indian openers Darren Ganga (19*) and Chris Gayle (5*) were sensible enough to safely negotiate the remaining 10 overs on the fourth day, taking the West Indies to 24 for no loss at the close of play. This leaves them trailing by 317.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, looking composed at the wicket, resuming on the fourth day with 45, began the slide, having added just 11 to his overnight score. The Guyana left-hander made 66 (157 balls, nine fours) before dragging one from Waqar back onto his stumps. Ryan Hinds (62 runs, 131 balls, seven fours) then top-edged a pull when a short ball got too big on him too fast. Mervyn Dillon interrupted the flow of Waqar wickets when he was run out, but the last two could not escape a bowler on a rampage.

Cameron Cuffy played all around a full delivery that clipped his leg-stump, while Ridley Jacobs swung one straight down the throat of Danish Kaneria at fine leg.

Waqar Younis, who went wicketless yesterday, was at his fastbowling best. Getting into a good rhythm early on, Waqar got the ball to swing late in characteristic fashion. The man who was once regarded as the best exponent of the toe-crushing yorker in the world ended with figures of 25.3-4-93-4.

When a team has a lead of 127 early on the fourth day of a Test match, it is unlikely that anyone is going to get stuck in and play an innings that will be remembered. This was certainly the case in the Pakistan second innings. Required to negotiate a tricky spell just before lunch, openers Taufeeq Umar and Naved Latif began slowly but steadily.

Debutant Naved Latif, who made nought in his first knock, managed 20 before he edged a Dillon delivery through to the wicket-keeper. Taufeeq Umar, the stylish left-hander, showed glimpses of good form, driving well through the off-side before being needlessly run out. Setting off for a nonexistent single, Umar (23) was sent back, only to be found short of his crease.

At 54/2, Inzamam ul-Haq joined Younis Khan out in the middle to steady the ship. The pair were separated just before they could bring up the fifty partnership for the third wicket. Cameron Cuffy surprised Younis Khan (32), and the resultant nick was snapped up behind the stumps.

Inzamam, who looked his usual laid-back self at the wicket, stroked the ball well, making 48 (56 balls, five fours) before becoming Dillon's second scalp. Useful contributions from Abdur Razzaq (29) and yet another clattering innings from stumper Rashid Latif (47 not out, 42 balls, four fours) enabled Pakistan to declare on 214/7, thus setting West Indies a target of 342 for victory.