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Gabriel, Bishoo pin Pakistan down

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After losing another toss and having to bowl again, West Indies rocked Pakistan with Shannon Gabriel’s two wickets in the first over, and had a productive final session to leave Pakistan at 255 for 8 by the end of the first day in Sharjah. Sami Aslam, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Sarfraz Ahmed all made fifties, but Pakistan were pegged back by untimely setbacks, partly of their own making.

 

Resuming at 148 for 3 after tea, Pakistan lost five wickets to concede the advantage to West Indies. Aslam, who had looked increasingly assured for his 74 off 172, was the first to depart. In the first over of the session, he gloved a reverse sweep over the wicketkeeper but Jason Holder ran around from first slip to take a simple catch.

 

Misbah and Sarfraz then added 80 at more than four runs an over, before the Pakistan captain also perished to a reverse sweep that went wrong. Legspinner Devendra Bishoo was the bowler on both occasions and he finished with 4 for 74.

 

That was the start of Pakistan’s silly season. Mohammad Nawaz charged at Bishoo, did not get anywhere near the pitch of the ball and was comprehensively beaten to set up a straightforward stumping. Sarfraz, having brought up an enterprising fifty, drove away from his body, off Gabriel, to drag the ball back onto his stumps.

 

When Bishoo beat Wahab Riaz’s limp forward prod to trap him lbw, Pakistan had lost their last four wickets for 18 runs. They added seven more, before bad light brought proceedings to a premature end, leaving Pakistan to rue the way they had relinquished a good position.

 

It could have been worse. Misbah began his 49th Test in charge – a Pakistan record – by winning his third toss of the series and opting to bat yet again. But that was where the sense of déjà vu ended.

 

Gabriel dismissed Azhar for a first-ball duck off just the second delivery of the match. Banging the ball in short of a length, he got it to rise awkwardly and swing away a touch, to hit the shoulder of the bat and provide a comfortable catch to Kraigg Brathwaite at second slip. It was the third time Gabriel had dismissed Azhar in the series.

Shannon Gabriel rocked Pakistan's batting with two wickets in the first over of the match
Shannon Gabriel rocked Pakistan’s batting with two wickets in the first over of the match

Then, Gabriel nipped one back into Shafiq to beat his bat and hit his pad. It looked like the ball may have been going down leg, but West Indies reviewed Paul Reiffel’s not-out decision and Hawk-Eye showed it hitting enough of leg stump to send the batsman on his way. Pakistan were 1 for 2.

 

A good start for West Indies could have been even better had Marlon Samuels, fielding at cover, hit the stumps at the keeper’s end after Younis set off for a risky single in the second over. Sami Aslam would have been run-out by a distance.

 

But as both batsmen settled in, they played some lovely shots. Younis timed a half-volley through midwicket for a boundary and followed that up with a gorgeous cover drive a few overs later. Aslam played a beautiful drive through mid-off and unleashed a number of sweeps and slog sweeps. The two put on 106 runs for the third wicket.

 

Younis had a couple of lucky escapes in the 22nd over. He flicked a full ball from offspinner Roston Chase towards midwicket, where Leon Johnson, still wearing a helmet from his stint at a close-in position, dropped a tough catch. Two balls later, Younis charged out but missed a leg-side delivery; wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich fumbled the ball in his haste to effect the stumping and the batsman dived back in to safety.

 

Chase eventually had his man when Younis, on 51, top-edged an attempted sweep to square leg, where Johnson made amends for his earlier drop.

 

Pakistan’s biggest reprieve of the day came halfway through the second session. In the 43rd over, with Misbah batting on 6, Gabriel went up for a big lbw appeal and reviewed the not-out decision. It was a full ball that pitched on off and seemed to miss Misbah’s bat before hitting the pad.

 

Then it hit the back pad, creating two noises and therefore doubt in the on-field umpire’s mind. Without snicko or HotSpot to eliminate the possibility of an inside edge, third umpire Richard Illingworth felt there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the on-field call. Though the ball would have gone on to hit middle, Misbah survived and added another 47 to his score.

 

But Pakistan frittered away their advantage after tea, allowing West Indies to work through their middle and lower orders and have the better of the opening day. (ESPNCricinfo)

 

 

Cover photo caption: Devendra Bishoo picked up four wickets on the opening day

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