Younis stars in engrossing contest
After Younis Khan had sauntered to his third century from four Tests, Corey Collymore produced a magnificent spell of controlled pace bowling to ensure that Pakistan didn't have it all their own way on the opening day at Sabina Park. Pakistan made a dodgy start after electing to bat on a green-tinged pitch, but Younis added 87 with Inzamam-ul-Haq and 117 with Asim Kamal as Pakistan went to tea in complete control.
Younis had failed in the first Test after piling up 508 runs in three Tests against India, but freed of the burden of leading the side, he produced a typically bustling innings, full of punchy, drives, gentle deflections and the odd fortuitous edge. And when he had made just 47, Devon Smith gave him a life, spilling a sharp chance to his right off Chris Gayle.
Gayle was the ideal foil for the tireless Collymore, and had the misfortune of seeing Shahid Afridi dropped off his bowling as well, by Shivnarine Chanderpaul at silly mid-on. He did however have the satisfaction of claiming the biggest scalp, Inzamam - back from a one-game suspension - who edged one to slip. It was a crucial breakthrough for West Indies, who were made to suffer by the fluency of Inzamam's drives and the contempt with which he pulled short deliveries for four as he raced to 50 from just 60 deliveries.
The momentum only shifted after Younis had reached his century, from just 168 balls, as Collymore kept bounding in to bowl a teasing line and length. Both Younis and Kamal departed in quick succession, and though Afridi produced another cameo, Collymore eventually got his reward for beating the flailing outside edge umpteen times.
But for Darrell Hair erroneously calling a no-ball when Tino Best, armed with the second new ball, had Kamran Akmal caught behind, Pakistan's late-afternoon plight could have been considerably worse. Akmal made the most of his good fortune with some glorious drives in the lengthening shadows as Pakistan finished with a bit of a flourish.
Collymore's exhibition was in stark relief to the inadequacy of his compatriots. Daren Powell started well, but faded later, while both Best - in the side to replace Fidel Edwards, the destroyer-in-chief in Barbados - and Reon King did little more than facilitate quick and easy run-scoring on a pitch that eased out as the day wore on.
Pakistan's start had been a mixed bag, with Yasir Hameed cracking two superb square-drives even as Shoaib Malik, the other makeshift opener, appeared nervous and unprepared at the other end. Ironically, it was Hameed that departed first, undone by a Powell delivery that tempted a waft. But with Younis coming in and grafting away immediately, 43 came in the first hour.
Malik, who was fortunate to escape an inside-edge past the stumps, played one audacious stroke through the covers off Powell, but was otherwise constantly hesitant outside off stump. Two balls after the drinks break, Collymore took advantage with a delivery that pitched in the corridor and took the thinnest of edges. But after Malik's tortuous 13, Younis and Inzamam made batting appear a far less hazardous task.
Collymore's first spell was restrictive rather than threatening, while King was punished each time he erred in line or length. The reintroduction of Best did nothing but spur Pakistan past three figures and by lunch, both batsmen appeared well-set, leaving the sparse crowd a lot less vocal than they had been an hour earlier. And but for Collymore's late heroics, the town immortalised by the music of Bob Marley might have contemplated wailing.
How they were out
Yasir Hameed c Gayle b Powell 14 (16 for 1)
Edged to first slip, straightforward catch
Shoaib Malik c Courtney Browne b Corey Collymore 13 (43 for 2)
Thin edge behind the stumps
Inzamam-ul-Haq c Devon Smith b Chris Gayle 50 (130 for 3)
Presented an angled bat to a ball that didn't turn. Taken at first slip.
Younis Khan c Wavell Hinds b Corey Collymore 106 (247 for 4)
Had a dart at one with an angled bat, catch taken to the fielder's left at gully.
Asim Kamal b Corey Collymore 51 (260 for 5)
Played away from the body with an angled bat. Inside edge on to the stumps.
Shahid Afridi c Courtney Browne b Corey Collymore 33 (298 for 6)
A hint of away movement got the thin outside edge. Simple catch for the wicketkeeper.
Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Cricinfo