On a day in which rain interrupted play four times at Warner Park, St Kitts, Pakistan reached 180-6 on the opening day of the second and final Test after an incisive new-ball burst from Ravi Rampaul had left them wobbling at 24-3.
Rampaul removed the first three batsmen inside the first hour’s play before two half-century partnerships spearheaded a revival for the tourists in only the third Test match on this ground.
Azhar Ali (67) and Skipper Misbah Ul Haq ( 25) put together 50 for the fourth wicket before Ali and Umar Akmal (56) added 93 for the fifth after Pakistan, needing a win to draw the series, elected to bat on good batting track which had some early bounce due to preparation moisture.
Rampaul continued his good work from the Guyana Test by finishing with 3-40 to put the West Indies, only needing a draw to win the series, in the driver’s seat in the first session.
Ali and Akmal steadied the ship with attractive batting against an attack badly missing a fifth specialist bowler on such a good surface before they both aided in their own demise in the final session with injudicious cricket.
Rampaul, in only his seventh Test, had Tafeeq Umar (11) caught behind at 17-1, Mohammed Hafeez (8) taken at slip by Lendl Simmons at 22-2 and Asad Shafik taken at point by Bishoo before he had scored as he cut loosely at a short delivery.
The level-head of Misbah Ul Haq, now also appointed Pakistan’s ODI Captain, joined Ali with their team in trouble and together they took the score to 27-3 before rain stopped play at 11:08hrs.
Play resumed after the brief interruption and while Rampaul bowled with pace and control, his new ball partner Kemar Roach again struggled to trouble the batsmen resulting in Darren Sammy, who had a five-wicket haul in the last Test, replacing Roach in the 13th over.
By lunch, Pakistan who has lost 15, won 15 and drawn 15 Tests against West Indies, had reached 46-2 with Ali and Ul Haq both on 12.
After the interval, a small working day crowd watched as leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo cause some discomfort to the batsmen with some bounce and turn as he and Roach operated in tandem just after the break but Bishoo seemed to loose some of his sting later in the day when success did not come as fast an expected.
Just when the fourth wicket stand had reached 50 and looking a ‘worry’ on a track getting better to bat on, Bishoo, in just his second
Test, induced the usually solid Ul Haq to play a loose drive to Marlon Samuels at mid-on to leave the score on 74-4. His 25 lasted 89 minutes and 65 balls and was decorated with five boundaries.
The dashing 20-year-old Akmal joined Ali and was not afraid to play his shots and by the time another shower stopped play at 14:02hrs Pakistan had reached 106-4 with Akmal on 36 and Ali on 23.
An early Tea was taken at 14:02hrs and Akmal and Ali played positively with Ali, who posted his seventh fifty at this level, playing some audacious front foot drives off the fast bowlers.
Akmal was his usual aggressive self as the fifth wicket partnership progressed in the final session as the West Indians, who looked alert in the field earlier, appeared flat in the final session.
Shoulders dropped when Simmons at slip failed to hold a difficult chance to his left as Ali, then 54 edged a cut at Sammy and the ball went for four.
Pakistan frustrated the West Indies before another shower at 15:42hrs again halted the match.
When play resumed in murky conditions West Indies struck two crucial blows to end a good day at the office for them on the truncated day.
Akmal, who hit four fours and a six in his 56 from 88 balls and 105 minutes, played an impetuous slash to a wide ball from Sammy and was brilliantly taken by a diving Rampaul at third man at 167-5, while a terrible mix-up nine runs later saw the demise of Ali. Mohammed Salman ignored a call for a single to Ramnaresh Sarwan at cover and stayed his ground as both batsmen ended up at the non-striker’s crease to send Ali on his way for 67 from 196 balls and 239 minutes. Abdur Rehman (1*) and Salman (8*) survived to the end in fading light.
West Indies will be looking to polish off the Pakistan tail today when play resumes at 09:30hrs but rain could have a big say in the result of this game.
Scores: Pakistan 180 for 6 (Azhar 67, Akmal 56, Rampaul 3-40) v West Indies.
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