West Indies v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Bridgetown, 2nd day May 1, 2017

Pakistan hold edge after Azhar Ali fifty


Pakistan 172 for 3 (Azhar 81*, Shehzad 70) trail West Indies 312 (Chase 131, Holder 58, Abbas 4-56, Amir 3-65) by 140 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 02:02
'We were very sloppy between lunch and tea' - Estwick

There was no knockout punch today, more gradual asphyxiation. As genuine moments of excitement and drama came few and far between, Pakistan, quietly and ruthlessly, wrapped the West Indies in a bear-hug and slowly squeezed the life out of them. There was some exceptionally generous bowling - Ahmed Shehzad made 70, having been gifted three lives - but Pakistan were efficient enough to capitalise on those mistakes, and end day two in a commanding position.

West Indies eventually perked up halfway into final session, taking three wickets for six runs to send Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq back into their shell. But with an opening batsman not out on 81, alongside a captain who loves a firefight, there was a lot of work left to do for Jason Holder's men.

For now, though, they can be relieved they were even able to take wickets. Devendra Bishoo extracted an outside edge from Shehzad to have him caught at slip with the score at 155. The Pakistan batsman had enjoyed a charmed life; he had a catch dropped as early as the third over, and was dismissed twice off deliveries that turned out to be no-balls. Shannon Gabriel was the first culprit, Roston Chase was the other. Shehzad made the most of it, but the question of whether he has returned to form is very much up for debate. He went through periods in his innings where run-scoring almost screeched to a halt; at one point, he made three off 59 balls.

West Indies were buoyant when they followed up Shehzad's wicket with those of Babar Azam and Younis Khan, the heir-apparent and the master. You would have to search far and wide to find a Younis dismissal off a poorer delivery than the one that felled him for a duck in Bridgetown. Bishoo bowled a classic long hop, and the batsman gave it the whack it was begging for, only he picked out short midwicket. Azhar and Misbah then went into power down mode, scoring 11 runs off their 58-ball partnership, ensuring there was no further damage.

The day had begun with a couple of West Indian wickets that were mirror images of each other. Holder attempted leave when a shot should have been played, and Chase attempted a shot when the ball was better off being left. But the effect of their dismissals was the same; it wrenched all the momentum the home side had built up over a painstaking 132-run partnership, putting them back to the place they are so dreadfully familiar with: square one.

Ahmed Shehzad enjoyed three lives. He was dropped on three, lbw to a no-ball on 21 and stumped off another no-ball on 32 © AFP

A breezy partnership between Alzarri Joseph and Bishoo ensured the West Indies made it past 300 but the optimism with which they had begun the day had long since evaporated. Mohammad Abbas - the most successful bowler today - got rid of Bishoo soon after. Yasir Shah cleaned up Joseph next over, and West Indies found themselves shot out for 312.

The Pakistan openers then consolidated their position of strength, although the cricket they played to get there fell some way short of attractive. Azhar and Shehzad combined for a century partnership, buying themselves precious time after coming in for sharp criticism for their lack of runs in the first Test. Some of their watchfulness was down to disciplined bowling from the West Indian quicks, although it was noteworthy that the sustained pressure never really felt like spilling over into a wicket.

The hosts could have done better to exploit a rapidly wearing pitch. There were balls that Azhar and Shehzad had to dig out from ankle-height, while the footmarks outside the off stump gave wings to the offbreaks pitching into them. The abrasiveness of the surface impacted the ball too, scuffing it up so badly that it had to be changed twice. Even so, Pakistan found ways to hang on, and though it wasn't always pretty, it certainly was pretty effective.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Metman on May 2, 2017, 16:45 GMT

    West Indies need a DISCIPLINE FAST BOWLER bowling at 90+ mph who can take 3 or more wickets per innings and not one who has achieved that RECORD 5 years after he had made his debut. West Indies have an ILL- DISCIPLINE FAST BOWLER bowling at 90 + mph who after 5 years has more NO BALLS ( 91 ) to his credit than wickets taken ( 54 )

  • Mohammad Zamin on May 2, 2017, 15:50 GMT

    @rk_ks - Buddy, nice of you to predict the future like a typical Indian fan, fact remains Pak will win the series. And as of now is a far better unit than the Indian test team which can win laurels at home only

  • mngc1 on May 2, 2017, 15:45 GMT

    @cricinfouser. The poor fielding has to do with lack of effort to properly coach upcoming players at regional level before wearing WI colours. Most players nowadays are poor in this skill when newly selected. A good example was Darren Bravo who Sammy had to hide on the field. Subsequently he got coached and drilled and he is quite good now. I have always said that the biggest difference between the marauding WI team 30 years ago and more recent teams is the catching. That was a magnificent slip cordon ending with Garner covering a lot of space in the gully. I remember seeing 8 - 9 catches go to hand in 1 inning with 100 % taken. Now we are accustomed to seeing 2 - 4 dropped per inning. Also although WI was outplayed by England and Australia in 3 match series losing both 2 - 0 there were matches we could have won if the catches were taken to draw those series 1 - 1.

  • Amin Khan on May 2, 2017, 15:45 GMT

    rk_ks . you have no idea . This is a pitch plan of misbah

  • jishrat on May 2, 2017, 15:42 GMT

    If you look the word 'boring' in a cricket dictionary you'll find 'Pakistani players'. When it comes to Misbah he is boooring. On the third day of a test match Pakistan score 15 in 12 overs. What a statistics. And with Azhar Ali on the other end its even worse sleep on. With 20 odd runs to complete his century he takes almost two hours to get them. Having won the first Misbah is clear about his intentions: Draw, Draw, Draw.

  • rk_ks on May 2, 2017, 15:30 GMT

    LOL. Pak struggling to score runs against the lowest ever ranked cricket team. What will happen after Younis and Misbah retire. You will be more worse than west indies.

  • swarzi on May 2, 2017, 15:28 GMT

    I was a big Waqar Younis fan when he played. But I find it a bit bizarre to hear him saying that Holder should take the new ball - that's wasting the new ball as he has shown this morning. While Gabriel kept creating the little opportunity for a wicket here and there, he never looked like even passing the bat. Now Joseph has replace him, things start to happen for Joseph. Holder's spell was a clear case of wasting the new ball!

  • Kangroos.Proteas.Monkeys.Lions on May 2, 2017, 15:07 GMT

    It was really important to build a long opening partnership and run rate is not an issue in tests. It was also important to capitalize on the mistakes of the opponents and Pak had full advantage. Pakistan are playing with just two experienced bowlers in this games while the other two are just the debutantes but they also have impressed with 5 wickets together. All windies talent is draining to T20 leagues and it has impacted them badly and teams play with them to improve their test ranking.

  • cricfan84069930 on May 2, 2017, 15:05 GMT

    At least we dont jump up and down for a bowler bowling 135 kph cutters

  • cricfan20688740 on May 2, 2017, 14:43 GMT

    cricfan3250926612 ummm dude bd is 10th in t20 even Afghanistan beat you in odi and is higher in t20. we got to no 3 by beating world champions

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