West Indies v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Bridgetown, 3rd day May 2, 2017

Azhar and Misbah fashion 81-run lead

West Indies 312 and 40 for 1 trail Pakistan 393 (Azhar 105, Misbah 99, Gabriel 4-81, Holder 3-42, Bishoo 3-16) by 41 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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'I deserved Misbah's wicket' - Holder

A slow but steady hundred from Azhar Ali, and Misbah-ul-Haq's 99, ensured Pakistan tightened their grip on the Bridgetown Test. After they secured a lead of 81 in response to West Indies' 312 on a deteriorating pitch, fast bowler Mohammad Abbas had Kieran Powell caught behind. West Indies ended the day trailing by 41.

The hosts had built up some momentum before tea, when they claimed three wickets for 13 runs, but they squandered it by allowing Pakistan's tailenders to make sizeable contributions in a game where batting in the second innings is expected to get significantly harder.

Jason Holder bowled an incisive spell, and along with Shannon Gabriel, had Pakistan seven down at tea for a lead of 17. Any hope of bowling them out swiftly, however, were dismissed by wayward bowling at the start of the final session. West Indies gave away three sets of byes that went for four down leg side. They were runs that, in this context, were such a gift they might as well have had a bow on them.

In all Pakistan added 64 runs, of which Yasir Shah scored 24. With Gabriel and Holder chipping away, Pakistan's lead had not become unassailable but the early loss of Powell meant West Indies would begin day four on the back foot.

The third day had begun with Misbah and Azhar in survival mode, scoring 54 runs in 26 overs on a pitch too slow to offer encouragement to the quicks. The likeliest route to a breakthrough was through the cracks spread across a misbehaving surface with variable bounce.

The second session was more lively, as if the teams had an epiphany over lunch that Test cricket in 2017 was supposed to be different to the kind they had displayed in the morning. Misbah was responsible for the injection of pace into the innings as Pakistan's batsmen looked more comfortable against spin at both ends.

Misbah broke the shackles when he swung freely for a six over long-on. The Pakistan captain looked good for a hundred, after being stranded on 99 in Kingston. However, he fell agonisingly on the same score again when a Holder delivery reared up to smash his gloves and loop to gully. What followed was a manic 20 minutes in which Pakistan went from 316 for 4 to 329 for 7.

Azhar brought up his 13th Test hundred shortly after, with a cut past backward point for four. However, Devendra Bishoo was beginning to find his range, and beat Azhar's bat from around the wicket on more than one occasion. Eight overs in, he found the outside edge with a sharp legbreak, breaking a 98-run partnership that took over 42 overs.

Misbah, though, continued to play in a liberated mood, sweeping well and even bringing out the reverse sweep to neutralise the spinners' leg-stump line. As a result, the runs began to flow, with 67 runs coming off 15 overs of spin. By then, Pakistan were ticking off milestones: the 300, the 50-partnership between Asad Shafiq and Misbah, and then going past West Indies' first-innings total.

However, it will be the one that got away - by one run yet again - that will likely remain memorable, as Misbah became the first man in Test cricket to have three scores of 99.

The mini-collapse that followed Misbah's dismissal was West Indies' best spell of the game so far. If they are to fight back once again during this Test, they will have to produce a better one with the bat on the fourth day.

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

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