West Indies v Pakistan at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown from 30th April to 4th May 2017

Barbadian rescues his side from early set-backs …. and his captain, Holder, is still there with him

Roston Chase (131 n.o.) saved West Indies from an early batting collapse and with his captain, Jason Holder, put the home side in a strong if not strong position of 286-6 on the first day of the Second Test Match at Kensington Oval, Barbados. The 25 year-old Barbadian has been the “find” of the last year: West Indies would have been in a seriously parlous position without him in the last two matches. Batting first on winning the toss West Indies were soon in trouble against the Pakistan new-ball bowlers and at one stage were 37-3. The batsmen struggled into the afternoon when the lack of variety in the attack based on only four front-line bowlers began to tell.
Once more the early West Indies batting struggled to contain some incisive Pakistan fast bowling early on the first morning. In just over five overs the hosts tottered to 13-2 with new-ball bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas taking one wicket each to catches in the area behind the stumps – Kraigg Brathwaite to Sarfraz Ahmed and Shimron Hetmyer to Azhar Ali respectively – and the former had been missed already from a comparatively easy chance to Ahmed Shehzad at mid-wicket. The posed so many questions to the batsmen that is is surprising that they did not take more wickets. The early introduction of leg-spinner Yasir Shah brought no relief as he had Shai Hope caught by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed at 37-3. Kieran Powell, as in the previous match, kept one wicket defiantly intact but it wasn’t until he was joined by the more positive Roston Chase that West Indies were able to offer some positive, if at times tentative, response to the bowlers. They were still together at lunch with the score at 72-3. Just before the interval Yasir Shah suffered pain in his back and when the players left the field he was seen to be hobbling. That would have concerned Pakistan particularly as the team had only two front-line bowlers. A second leg-spinner, 18 year-old Shadab Khan, and been included, for his Test Match debut, at the expensive of quick bowler Wahab Riaz. West Indies were unchanged from the time that which lost at Kingston.
Once more, Chase rescued the innings after the disappointment of the early batting. His promising 65-runs partnership with Powell ended when the latter was trapped back on his wicket by Mohammad Amir and given out l.b.w. on review. Although Vishaul Singh did not last long before he was caught by Younis Khan off Mohammad Abbas, Shane Dowich settled more easily. He had an unusual escape when, returning for a second run, a throw from Yasir Shah at mid-wicket hit the stumps with the batsman well short of his ground – but failed to dislodge the bails. Dowrich fell eventually not long before the tea-break to another catch by Younis Khan, this time from debutant Shadab Khan. Chase, who had hit 11 boundaries by the break, continued to bat with composure against tight bowling especially by Mohammad Amir who had yielded only 26 runs from his 15 overs. Even the pitch had not helped the bowlers as much as the early exchanges suggested that it might, Pakistan still held the advantage with West Indies at 166-6: much would depend on the final session. It was the more disappointing that so many of the leading West Indies players were not available for selection to test them more effectively.
After tea Chase went to his second Test Match century, and the first on his home ground safely and without incident. He was supported ably by his captain Jason Holder in turning the innings around as the tourists suffered from the lack of depth and variety in their attack. In this series to date West Indies have been served well by their Barbadian batting in the middle-order. Chase reached his century with by driving Mohammad Amir for four through the covers and as the scoring-rate picked up the hundred partnership soon followed. By controlled batting with a regular flow of boundaries, rather than by spectacular stroke-play Chase and Holder broke the earlier restraint imposed by the quicker bowlers and caused a re-evaluation of the morning’s prediction that the pitch would help the bowlers bring about an early finish to the match. The day ended with West Indies on 286-6 with Chase on 131 n.o. and Holder 58 n.o. and their unbroken seventh-wicket partnership on 132 runs.

West Indies 286-6 (R.L. Chase 131 n.o., J.O. Holder 58 n.o., K.A.O. Powell 38, S.O. Dowrich 29, Mohammad 2-47, Mohammad Amir 2-52 )



Pakistan openers in run-scoring crawl after bowlers end West Indies innings early – no-balls and wickets relieve tedium and keep interest high


An unusual second day’s cricket ended with Pakistan on 172-3, that is 140 runs behind their opponents, with 7 wickets in hand. Because of the strange pace of play it is difficult to say which team is on top. Pakistan ended the West Indies within the first hour but in reply batted with painstaking care. Azhar Ali, who scored 81 n.o. from 191 balls, and Ahmed Shehzad, with 70 from 191, put on155 runs for the first wicket. The latter was helped when he was twice clearly out but reprieved because the deliveries were no-balls.  When it seemed that Pakistan had built an impregnable position the West Indies bowlers struck thrice within six runs and put a stranglehold on the scoring.
The first session went very much the way the tourists would have wanted. They wrapped up the innings quickly for 312 and their opening batsmen survived to lunch at 36-0. Pakistan’s fast bowlers struck twice before West Indies had hardly settled. Both overnight batsmen were out without addition to the overnight score. With the third ball of the morning Mohammad Abbas had Jason Holder caught by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed off a thin inside edge, and with his third ball Mohammad Amir forced Roston Chase to edge a catch to Younis Khan in the slips. All before the score had moved from 286. There were a few brisk strokes from Devendra Bishoo but the end could not be long delayed. Mohammad Abbas got Bishoo to pop up a catch to Yasir Shah and then the latter, coming on as a bowler, in his first over bowled Alzarri Johnson. Although the 312 total from 98.5 overs was less than West Indies may have expected with Chase and Holder batting so well the previous evening, it was much better than they would have dared to have hoped at a few stages on the preceding stages. Early in the Pakistan innings Vishaul Singh at mid-on failed to make ground to hold a catch he should have taken from Ahmed Shehzad off Shannon Gabriel. That was just what West Indies did not need. After that, without dominating the bowling, Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad batted through to lunch at 36-0 from 14 overs without mishap.
West Indies have only themselves to play that they failed to take a wicket in the afternoon session. The fielding lacked urgency and the spate of no-balls gave more than surplus runs to the opposition – Ahmed Shehzad was reprieved twice when he was otherwise clearly out because the bowler had overstepped. The scoring in this session which the batsmen approached generally with care and caution was soporific which was not helped by the slow over-rate. Ahmed Shehzad, particularly, seemed edgy and reluctant to score until late in the session, even though neither the pitch nor the bowling posed problems. The number of no-balls ceded by the West Indies fast bowlers gave risen to concern. With the total at 57-0 Gabriel beat Ahmed Shehzad for pace and hit him on the pads plumb in front of the wicket …. only for the review replay to show that it was another no-ball. When the spin bowlers came on the batsmen increased the scoring rate with a boundary each over two consecutive overs. Then with the score at 93 Ahmed Shehzad advanced down the pitch to off-spinner Roston Close missed the ball completely and was stumped by Shane Dowrich …. but that delivery, too, was also shown to have been a no-ball. The hundred partnership came from 228 balls just before tea which was taken at 106-0. Ahmed Shehzad had batted 132 balls to reach 40 n.o. and Azhar Ali 109 for 54 n.o. After tea Ahmed Shehzad started to outscore his partner but which was much because Azhar Ali had moved down a gear. Yet when Gabriel bowled his eighth no-ball the latter hit it for four. The following over Ahmed Shehzad’s luck ran out when he edged a delivery from Bishoo into the hands of Shai Hope at 155. With only a single added, in Gabriel’s next over Babar Azam top-edged a return catch which the bowler held in follow-through. This time the ball was delivered from well behind the crease, and the batsman hadn’t scored. Even so television showed that Gabriel bowled two more no-balls in his next over. Younis Khan did not settle. He survived a very close call for caught-behind off Bishoo, the ball almost grazing the face of the bat, and hit the next ball, a long-hop, straight to Gabriel at sort mid-wicket. The veteran, too, had failed to score as Pakistan slipped from 155-0 to161-3. Afterwards Bishoo and Holder put such a hold on the scoring that only 11 runs came in 10 overs, our of which were consecutive maidens. The light was deteriorating and play was curtailed with Pakistan on 172-3 from 69 overs. 

West Indies 312 (R.L. Chase 131, J.O. Holder 58, K.O.A. Powell 38, S.O. Dowrich 29, Mohammad 4-56, Mohammad Amir 3-65, Yasir Shah 2-85):  Pakistan 172-3 (Azhar Ali 81 n.o., Ahmed Shehzad 70, D. Bishoo 2-53)


Misbah ul-Haq falls for 99 again – Both sides let advantage slip – “Boring” match building to an exciting climax


A match which has been distinguished by much slow batting and slow over-rates is building up to an exciting climax on the third day at the Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.  West Indies closed at 40-1 in their second innings, a deficit of 41 runs, after Pakistan had established a first innings lead of 81 runs. Both sides faltered when they seemed to have the advantage. Azhar Ali, whose 105 lasted 278 balls, and Misbah ul-Haq, who made 99 from 201, took Pakistan into the lead by grimly grinding down the attack. Then West Indies struck back with three quick wickets just before tea, including the dismissal of Misbah ul-Haq tantalisingly again one short of a hundred, only to let the Pakistan tail-enders off the immediate hook afterwards.  The balance of the day’s play lay with Pakistan but only just.
Pakistan won the continued war of attribution over the first session in which no wicket was lost and the new ball was weathered while a further 54 runs were added over the two hours. The morning followed the lacklustre course of the previous day as Azhar Ali, who took 11 balls to build on his overnight score, and Misbah-ul-Haq sought to grind down the opposition on a pitch which was already showing signs of unpredictability. Maybe that would be easy to understand as Pakistan are one up in the three-match rubber and need only to draw the other two to win their first series in the Caribbean. The West Indies’ lack of urgency is more difficult to comprehend – they need to try to seize the initiative. That was not in evidence in the slow over-rate, the dilatoriness between overs, and the no-balls and fielding lapses of the first day. Jason Holder does not give the impression that he has a firm grip on his team or the game. The new ball was taken mid-morning and with the first over Shannon Gabriel gave away 4 byes and 4 runs as consecutive balls swung down the leg-side evading the diving wicket-keeper, Shane Dowrich. Lunch was taken with the score at 226-3 from 95 overs with Azhar Ali still six runs short of his century on 94 which has taken him all of 257 deliveries – 13runs coming in the morning’s 120 minutes - and Misbah-ul-Haq, perhaps surprisingly as he had appeared to be more positive, scoring even more slowly with 40 runs from 121 balls.
Pakistan finished the second session 17 runs ahead with 3 wickets in hand. Yet their apparent control of the match was ripped from them through the loss of 3 wickets for 9 runs in 5 overs just before the tea interval. As soon as reached his half-century Misbah-ul-Haq showed greater aggression, including hitting Roston Chase for 6 over mid-on.
  Azhar Ali was beaten outside the edge by leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo bowling around the wicket, almost edging a catch, but in the same over the batsman could only nick a delivery which spun across him from outside the leg stump in the gloves of Dowrich. The score stood at 259 after a stand of 98 runs from 42 overs. Misbah-ul-Haq opened up by hitting Bishoo for a 6 and then a four. Asad Shafiq, more restrained, benefitted from 4 overthrows when fielder Gabriel threw in wildly and nobody was backing up. The batsmen had been scoring more fluently against the spinners and seemed to be targeting Bishoo, and, indeed, Misbah-ul-Haq hit the leg-spinner for 4 to deep mid-wicket to put Pakistan ahead. The captain survived a confident appeal by his opposite number Holder, on review, when he was on 99. From the very next ball Misbah-ul Haq failed to draw his bat away quickly enough from a short ball which bounced unexpectedly and lobbed up from his glove to be caught by Shai Hope gully with the total at 316. He is the only batsman to have been dismissed one short of his hundred in a Test Match three times, as well as being stranded on 99 n.o. in the previous match at Kingston.  Sarfraz Ahmed did not last too long before at 325 he edged a delivery from Gabriel to Kieran Powell at second slip, one ball after he had hit the bowler for four. Asad Safiq was l.b.w. to Holder on the last ball before tea (329-7).
Mohammad Amir was the first to fall after the interval. At 354 he hit a ball from Holder which was well outside the off-stump to Shai Hope in the gully. The Pakistan tail-enders decided to play their strokes and debutant Shadab Khan top-edged Alzarri Joseph for a 6 over long-leg. West Indies failed to deliver the knock-out punch which had appeared to be theirs. Shadab Khan was dismissed by Chase diving full length to hold a catch from Gabriel at mid-on with the score on 384. The innings ended nine runs when Yasir Shah stretched for a delivery going by Gabriel, edging to wicketkeeper Dowrich. The lead after 140 overs was 81 runs.
 The West Indies second innings began badly. With only eight runs scored wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed dived splendidly to his right to hold an inside edge catch by left-hander Kieran Powell from a ball which Mohammad Abbas brought back into him. With the weather overcast the umpires consulted their light-meters from time to time. Kraigg Brathwaite and Shimron Hetmyer batted through to the close with further loss at 40-1. In the last over of the day leg-spinner Shadad Khan yielded two boundaries and 4 byes. 

West Indies 312 (R.L. Chase 131, J.O. Holder 58, K.O.A. Powell 38, S.O. Dowrich 29, Mohammad Abbas 4-56, Mohammad Amir 3-65, Yasir Shah 2-85) & 40-1:  Pakistan 393 (Azhar Ali 105, Misbah-ul Haq 99, Ahmed Shehzad 70, S.T. Gabriel 4-81, J.O. Holder 3-42, D.Bishoo 3-116)



Hope puts West Indies on top – then three wickets fall for a single run – and Yasir Shah breaks through


The match at Kensington Oval continues to be evenly balanced – right until the last morning –West Indies finished 182 runs ahead with their last two second-innings batsmen at the wicket. For most of the day West Indies battled with the same resolution as their opponents had shown previously to make the game safe and put Pakistan under pressure. Shai Hope (90) led the way, mixing stroke-play with sound defence, as the bowlers and fieldsmen were frustrated by the slow pace of the pitch. Then going into the final hour three wickets fell in the course of a single run, two to persistent leg-spinner Yasir Shah (6-90), to throw the issue again into doubt. West Indies would need to score another twenty or so runs in the morning to feel that they have a realistic chance of winning.
West Indies batted through the morning more comfortably than would have been foreseen. They lost only one more wicket in erasing the deficit and came to lunch at 112-3, that is 31 runs ahead. Although the day started disastrously with Shimron Hetmyer failing to respond in time to an in-swinging ball from Mohamad Amir and being bowled with only a single added to the overnight score, Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope demonstrated the resilience required on a pitch which was slow and responsive to spin. Hope drove two 4s through cover in an over from Mohammad Amir, and his partner put West Indies ahead by pushing the same bowler for 3 into the vacant off-side. Brathwaite was willing to take the fight to Yasir Shah whom he hit magnificently for 4 through mid-on, but shortly afterwards at 97 he was surprised by a ball from the leg-spinner which popped out of the rough and hit the shoulder of his bat on the way to a very good catch by Younis Khan at second slip.
 Just before lunch Pakistan had the chance of effecting a run out but with the batsmen stranded mid-wicket Misbah ul-Haq at cover threw to the wrong end. It was a good morning for West Indies.
In the afternoon West Indies, led by Shai Hope, coped successfully with the Pakistan leg-spinners and by establishing a 116 runs lead put themselves in their strongest position in the match to date. The batting continued sedately, and without loss, for the first hour after lunch, but the play was not without incident as Yasir Shah caused problems. Wicket-keeper barely failed to catch in front of the stumps what appeared to have been a deflection by Roston Chase, but was seen on replay to have missed the batsman’s glove by a whisker. The Barbadian survived by a similar distance a few balls later when Mohammad Abbas hit the stumps with a direct hit as he scrambled to get home running a single. Hope hit Mohammad Amir for an impressive straight boundary and then did the same to Yasir Shah. He repeated the measure in the leg-spinner’s next over. Chase got into the act by hitting the same bowler to the square-leg boundary but on the last ball of the over hit back a caught-and-bowled at 155. Vishaul Singh started his scoring with a 4 of Mohammad Abbas who was then driven for a single by Hope to reach his first Test Match fifty. Thus encouraged, the latter straight-drove the bowler for another 4 in his next over. Hope was even more severe on leg-spinner Shadab Khan whom he hit for 6 over long-on which Vishaul Singh followed with a 4 off Yasir Shah who got the same treatment again from Hope when he pitched short.
 West Indies concluded the session on 197-4.
The evening began slowly before Hope hit another impressive 4 off Shadab Khan.
 He and Vishaul Singh batted well into the session, and, apart from a couple of near misses which did not quite go to hand, pushed back Pakistan’s hope of an early victory. Then, as has happened several times already, both batsmen were out to consecutive balls at 235. Hope, when, frustratingly, only ten runs short of a hundred, hit the last ball of Yasir Shah’s over straight to Azhar Ali at cover, and with the first ball of his Mohammad Abbas bowled Singh. The 154 runs lead looked more vulnerable than it had a couple of deliveries earlier. Only one run later Jason Holder deflected Yasir Khan via the wicket-keeper’s glove to be caught spectacularly by Younis Khan at first slip. New batsman Devendra Bishoo eased the tension by edging a four. The position would have become worse if Ahmed Shehzad running from square-left to mid-wicket had not narrowly failed to catch a lofted shot by Bishoo from Mohammad Abbas.  At 252 Shane Dowrich looped a catch off Yasir Shah into the slips where Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan vied for the honour. It was won by the former and the bowler had his fifth wicket in the innings. Alzarri Johnson struck a fine boundary through mid-off Yasir Shah, but the next ball, a full toss, he hit straight to Mohammad Amir at short mid-wicket at 261.  The day ended on 264-9 from 102 overs with Bishoo and Gabriel the not out batsmen.


West Indies 312 (R.L. Chase 131, J.O. Holder 58, K.O.A. Powell 38, S.O. Dowrich 29, Mohammad Abbas 4-56, Mohammad Amir 3-65, Yasir Shah 2-85) & 264-9 (S.D. Hope 90, K.C. Brathwaite 43, V.A. Singh 32, Yashir Shah 6-90, Mohammad 2-57):  Pakistan 393 (Azhar Ali 105, Misbah-ul Haq 99, Ahmed Shehzad 70, S.T. Gabriel 4-81, J.O. Holder 3-42, D.Bishoo 3-116)



Shannon Gabriel breaks down batting on a pitch with movement and low bounce – Misbah ul-Haq fails to score … and a pair for Babar Azam


After four days of attritional warfare the West Indies fast bowlers struck with the speed of a cobra to win the Second Test Match at the Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados to win by 106 runs and square the three-match rubbers at 1-1 with one to play. Shannon Gabriel breached the Pakistan batting, well supported by Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph. The outcome of the match was settled in the morning session and completed by mid-afternoon with Pakistan skittled for 81. The tourists did not recover from losing half of their side for only 30 runs.
West Indies seized hold of the match in the morning session. Shannon Gabriel spearheaded a pace attack which, aided by a pitch with low bounce and movement, broke the back of the Pakistan batting. The tourists came to lunch at 35-5 from 20 overs – still 153 runs short of their target. The contest was set up when Devendra Bishoo, who had been lucky to get an edged4 behind the wicket-keeper off the first ball of the day, skied the fifth to be caught at mid-on by Azhar Ali to give Yasir Shah his seventh wicket of the innings. The 268 runs total, in which 6 wickets had fallen for 33 runs in 13.5 overs, set Pakistan to score 188 runs to win.
  The bowlers grasp the initiative from the start and did not let go. In contrast to his dour batting in the first innings Azhar Ali hit 4s off both opening bowlers, and then was caught at 10 by Shimron Hetmyer at mid-wicket from Gabriel. One run later, Babar Azam glanced a ball from Joseph drifting leg-side to be caught by wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich – out for a pair.  It could have been worse because almost immediately Ahmed Shehzad gained a 4 as Kieran Powell at slip let an edged stroke from the bowling of Joseph to go through his hands to the boundary. After that things did become much worse very quickly. Younis Khan was caught l.b.w. in front of the wicket at 27 off a ball from Holder which cut-back. Then it was the turn of the seemingly immoveable Misbah ul-Haq. The Pakistan captain was rapped on the pads by a ball from Gabriel which brought an appeal for l.b.w.  The review showed that the batsman was not out l.b.w. because there was an inside edge – but as the ball had then ballooned up to Shai Hope at gully he was caught. The score was 30-4. At the same score, and from the second delivery he received, Asad Shafiq poked at a ball from Gabriel which moved late and carried to Kieran Powell at slip. The fielder made amends for his earlier miss by holding on the catch, even if he did fumble it. Ahmed Shehzad batted through the debacle and was with wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed at the interval.
Without a run added to the lunch score Ahmed Shehzad was l.b.w. to an unplayable ball from Joseph which kept very low and was shown to be clipping leg-stump by only the merest fraction. After another single Shadab Khan played too late at Holder and was caught by wicket-keeper Dowrich. Now at last Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir started to hit back. The latter hit Holder through the covers to the boundary, as did his partner to Joseph, and with 4 byes coming from the West Indies captain the count began to mount. At 57-7 Mohammad Amir survived a chance into the slips off Holder which Kraigg Brathwaite dropped. The batsmen were either blocking or hitting boundaries, as Sarfraz Ahmed score another 4 off Holder and Mohammad Amir from Joseph. The same batsman edged the same bowler for 4 past the diving Dowrich. Mohammad Amir’s innings ended at 78 when he slashed Gabriel to be caught by Vishaul Singh at backward point.The Trinidadian fast bowler clean bowled Yasir Shah at 81 before he had scored by another ball which kept low. As if in despair at being joined by the last Sarfraz Ahmed lashed out at Holder, the ball went high and was caught Roston Chase at long-on. Pakistan were out for 81 in 34.4 overs. The victory margin was 106 runs.


West Indies 312 (R.L. Chase 131, J.O. Holder 58, K.O.A. Powell 38, S.O. Dowrich 29, Mohammad Abbas 4-56, Mohammad Amir 3-65, Yasir Shah 2-85) & 268 (S.D. Hope 90, K.C. Brathwaite 43, V.A. Singh 32, Yashir Shah 7-94, Mohammad 2-57) beat  Pakistan 393 (Azhar Ali 105, Misbah-ul Haq 99, Ahmed Shehzad 70, S.T. Gabriel 4-81, J.O. Holder 3-42, D.Bishoo 3-116) & 81 (S.T.Gabriel 5-11, J.O. Holder 3-23, A.S. Joseph 2-42) by 106 runs


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