Pakistan on top after two late wickets
Through most of the second day, West Indies fought to keep Pakistan from assuming an impregnable position in the Abu Dhabi Test. Shannon Gabriel’s maiden five-wicket haul helped bowl Pakistan out for 452, and West Indies seemed to be in a fairly manageable position heading to stumps, but two wickets in the last two overs of the day sent them spiralling back to square one.
At stumps, West Indies were four down and trailing by 346 runs, with Yasir Shah beginning to cause all manner of problems, ripping the ball out of the rough from around the wicket.
Leon Johnson and Dwayne Bravo, opening because Kraigg Brathwaite had to make up for time spent off the field during Pakistan’s innings, looked comfortable at the start of the West Indies innings, with the conditions offering little help for either the seamers or the spinners.
Then, in the third over after tea, Rahat Ali produced reverse-swing with a 13-over-old ball to get Johnson lbw, beating his inside edge as he looked to work the ball into the leg side. Rahat then nearly had Brathwaite third ball, finding his outside edge as he poked uncertainly with no footwork at a length ball swinging away from him, but the ball fell just short of the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
Rahat and Sohail Khan continued to reverse the ball, though not extravagantly, and Bravo was untroubled by both of them as he drove with authority off both feet. It took until the 23rd over for Misbah-ul-Haq to turn to his legspinner, and Yasir struck at the start of his fourth over, straightening one from a middle-stump line to beat Bravo’s risky front-foot pull and strike his front pad.
Michael Gough turned down Yasir’s appeal, but Pakistan’s review showed there was no inside-edge and that the ball pitched in line, and indicated it would have gone on to hit middle and leg stumps.
Marlon Samuels nearly went first ball, an inside-edge saving him, on review, after Gough had given him out lbw. Samuels’ front-and-across trigger movement continued to cause him problems early in his innings against the spinners, but having survived that period, he began to play his shots. He took three fours off one Yasir over, moving back to slap him twice through the cover-point region and stepping forward in between to drive through mid-off.
But he never really looked settled, and Rahat, in the penultimate over of the day, got the ball to reverse away from just short of a good length. Staying leg-side of the ball and not covering its line, Samuels poked at it and edged to slip. Then, Brathwaite pushed Yasir into the covers and called for one. Devendra Bishoo, the nightwatchman, sent him back when he was already halfway down the pitch, and two set batsmen had disappeared had disappeared in a flash.
Pakistan were 304 for 4 overnight, and had gone past 500 in their last three first innings at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, but Gabriel and Jason Holder prevented them from doing so again. They took two early wickets in the morning session, and then, after a 70-run seventh-wicket stand between Sarfraz and Mohammad Nawaz, picked up the last four wickets in the space of 9.2 overs.
The lower-order slump began in the second over after lunch, when Gabriel speared a reverse-swinging 152kph full toss between Sarfraz’s bat and pad and hit the base of off stump. Sarfraz had just stroked him for two fours in four balls and moved past the half-century mark.
Another full, reverse-swinging delivery sent Nawaz back for 25 when he played across a Holder yorker from around the wicket. Sohail responded by hitting three fours in one Gabriel over, barely moving his feet but timing his shots crisply. He couldn’t quite middle an attempted pull off Holder, however, and fell to a catch at midwicket.
A successful lbw review from Sohail had kept Gabriel waiting for his fifth wicket, but he didn’t have to wait too long before Zulfiqar, failing to get fully forward to drive, sent a thin edge through to wicketkeeper Shai Hope.
West Indies took the second new ball at the start of the day’s play, and Gabriel struck in the fifth over of the morning. The last six times Misbah had resumed his innings overnight before this, he had added no runs to his score four times.
Today he added six runs to his overnight 90 before Gabriel got one to seam back a touch and go past his inside edge as he looked to work the ball into the leg side. Misbah reviewed Gough’s decision to give him out, and had to walk back when ball-tracking returned an “umpire’s call” judgement on whether the ball would have gone on to strike leg stump or not.
Yasir, who walked in as nightwatchman on the first evening but didn’t get to face a single ball, played some pleasing shots in reaching 23 – his three fours including a straight drive and a wristy pull, both off Holder – before pulling one straight to square leg.
Pakistan were in danger of losing some of the ground they had gained on day one, but in Sarfraz they had just the right batsman for the situation, with the ability to score quickly and put the bowling team back on the back foot.
Moving around the crease and often out of it to disrupt the bowlers’ lines and lengths, he began finding the gaps and rotating the strike as soon as he walked in, usually with nimble flicks and deflections into the leg side.
Sarfraz didn’t hit any boundaries in his first 25 balls, but then hit two in two balls when Miguel Cummins tried to peg him back with the short ball, pulling him through square leg before helping him over the slips. Those were the last two balls of pace in the session. Spinners Devendra Bishoo and Roston Chase bowled the last 10 overs before lunch, and Pakistan comfortably milked 43 runs off them.
Nawaz, who made a duck in his only innings on his debut Test in Dubai, waited ten balls to get off the mark here, but didn’t show any urgency or nerves while doing so. The introduction of the spinners freed him up to an extent, and he brought up his first Test boundary in the fifth over before lunch with a rasping square cut off Chase. It remained the only boundary in his 71-ball 25. (ESPNCricinfo)
Cover photo caption: Darren Bravo was dismissed before the close of play