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May 27, 2005
West Indies' bowlers, led by the impressive Fidel Edwards, produced their first really decent spell of the home summer to rip through Pakistan's woefully unimpressive batting on the second day of the Bridgetown Test. Although Pakistan battled back in the final session, West Indies led by 369 runs at the close, with six second-innings wickets in hand.
That should be enough, but on a pitch starting to take turn, West Indies do not have a front-line spinner and, worryingly, Edwards limped off the field shortly before the end of the Pakistan innings. The hope will be that it is nothing serious, although his track record of niggles is not one to inspire optimism.
Pakistan were simply dreadful when they resumed this morning, losing all ten wickets for 118 runs inside a session and a half. Edwards, whose back problems mean that he has hardly played since last year's tour of England, bowled two good spells either side of lunch, swinging the ball with more accuracy than his slingshot action often produces. His five-wicket haul, his third in Tests, was well-deserved - but also owed quite a bit to some appalling shot-selection. At least half the wickets to fall were of the batsmen's making, and in an inexperienced line-up it was the stand-in captain Younis Khan's swipe which was probably the worst.
And it could have been far worse. Had Ramnaresh Sarwan not spilt a routine chance at slip and half-a-dozen or so balls lobbed between fielders, Pakistan would have struggled to reach three figures. The pitch could not be blamed, as it played true all day. The only place for Pakistan's batsmen to look was in the mirror.
It took three balls for Edwards to strike. Much was expected of Shahid Afridi, and many pundits had predicted fireworks from him this morning. As it was, his fuse was never even lit. Edwards beat Afridi's bat first ball, induced an uncontrolled edge over the slips second delivery, and then squared him up with a full-length outswinger, and Devon Smith clung on to a sharp chance at second slip.
Salman Butt had looked comfortable against the string of wide and loose balls he had been served up early on, and survived Sarwan's reprieve only to snick a loose drive to Courtney Browne as lunch loomed. Of the young guns, Yasir Hameed was far from assured before playing on via bat and pad, and Bazid Khan played outside the line of one from Corey Collymore which cut back and feathered the inside edge.
At lunch, Pakistan were 96 for 5, and much depended on Younis. Asim Kamal fell to another unnecessarily ambitious stroke in the over after the break for 0, and then came the crucial strike when Younis tried to pull one that wasn't there and skyed the ball to midwicket. He had survived a similar aberration off the first ball he faced, but clearly had not learned.
Then Kamran Akmal, a man with a Test hundred to his name, slashed at a ball so wide that he did well to reach it, and Wavell Hinds took a good catch high at cover point. It summed up the whole innings.
Pakistan's tail twitched, but were unable to claw their way to the 146 they needed to avoid the follow-on. In the event it was academic, as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, probably influenced by Edwards limping off, opted to try to bat Pakistan out of the game in front of a disappointing crowd.
That plan appeared to be well on course until a flurry of wickets shortly after tea had West Indies wobbling. Smith and Sarwan both perished attempting to cut, Chris Gayle fell to a straightforward bat-pad catch after making 50, and then Chanderpaul inside-edged his first ball from Danish Kaneria between off stump and the keeper. Had Chanderpaul fallen, then West Indies would have been on the ropes at 65 for 4. As it was, he was still there at the close.
Brian Lara decided that aggression was the best form of defence, and launched a counterattack punctuated with some typically flamboyant strokeplay, adding 72 for the fifth wicket with the more circumspect Chanderpaul. Although Lara was neatly stumped by Akmal off Afridi with less than an hour remaining, the feeling was that Pakistan's brief window had come and gone in the period following Gayle's dismissal.
Unless Pakistan bat as superbly second time around as they did appallingly first, it is hard to see how they can claw their way out of this one, even given West Indies' bowlers notorious waywardness. But any match involving these two utterly unpredictable sides is bound to have a few more twists left yet.
How they were out
Shahid Afridi c Smith b Edwards 16 (26 for 1)
Turned square by full-length outswinger and edged to slip
Yasir Hameed b Edwards 12 (54 for 2)
Caught on back foot and edged into stumps via bat and pad
Salman Butt c Browne b Collymore 27 (76 for 3)
Chased a wide half-volley
Bazid Khan c Browne b Collymore 9 (96 for 4)
Inside edge to ball that cut back slightly
Asim Kamal c Sarwan b King 0 (96 for 5)
Slashed to gully
Younis Khan c Collymore b Edwards 31 (100 for 6)
Truly horrible skyed attempted pull
Kamran Akmal c Hinds b King 4 (113 for 7)
Equally dire slash at a very wide ball, well taken high at cover point
Abdul Razzaq lbw b Edwards 10 (120 for 8)
Trapped plumb in front but seemed to indicate he had got an edge
Shabbir Ahmed b Edwards 6 (132 for 9)
Lost leg stump attempting massive heave over midwicket
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan c Sarwan b Collymore 17 (144 all out)
Edged to third slip
Devon Smith c Akmal b Razzaq 10 (59 for 1)
Tried to cut a ball too close and too short
Ramnaresh Sarwan c Akmal b Afridi 1 (64 for 2)
Bottom edge attempting to cut
Chris Gayle c Kamal b Kaneria 50 (65 for 3)
Bat-pad catch to short leg
Brian Lara st Akmal b Afridi 48 (137 for 4)
Just failed to slide his back foot over the line after missing attempted drive
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?