KINGSTON: Captain Babar Azam and Fawad Alam were battling to lift Pakistan from a horrible start at 62 for three at lunch on the opening day of the second Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Friday.
Babar, his country’s premier batsman, was due to resume after the interval on 31 alongside left-hander Fawad, whose unbeaten 26 has contributed to a fourth-wicket partnership so far worth much-needed 60 runs.
Kemar Roach struck twice and new ball partner Jayden Seales claimed early success as well to have the tourists tottering at two for three with just four overs gone after home captain Kraigg Brathwaite repeated his decision of the first Test by putting the opposition in on winning the toss.
Pakistan’s hopes for a more solid start from their top order crumbled after just four deliveries when Abid Ali fell to a good low catch by Jermaine Blackwood at third slip off Roach.
Revelling in the bowler-friendly conditions, Roach added to that early success in his next over as new batsman Azhar Ali fell without scoring, the former Pakistan captain edging a delivery through to wicket-keeper Joshua da Silva.
Seales, player-of-the-match in the first Test when he claimed eight wickets including five in the second innings, enjoyed his share of the early spoils. The teenaged pacer drew the other opener, Imran Butt, into playing at another full-length delivery for da Silva to take his second straightforward catch in nine balls.
Babar and Fawad displayed admirable grit and discipline in defying West Indies’ all-pace attack.
The elegant Babar countering with a handful of handsome boundaries while Fawad was again a model of unorthodox defiance given his much-talked about exaggerated square-on batting stance.
After scrambling to a thrilling one-wicket win the first Test at the same venue five days earlier, the home side made one change to that winning line-up.
Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph further bolstered the pace attack at the expense of left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
Pakistan also made just one change as experienced wrist-spinner Yasir Shah, who went wicketless in the first Test, was replaced by left-arm orthodox slow bowler Nauman Ali.
West Indies are seeking a first Test series triumph over Pakistan for 21 years.
The visitors are hoping to repeat the efforts of the 2005 and 2011 tours of the Caribbean when they lost the first encounters before rebounding to square both two-Test series.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings):
Abid Ali c Blackwood b Roach 1
Imran Butt c da Silva b Seales 1
Azhar Ali c da Silva b Roach 0
Babar Azam not out 31
Fawad Alam not out 26
EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-1) 3
TOTAL (for three wkts, 25 overs) 62
FALL OF WKTS: 1-2 (Abid), 2-2 (Azhar), 3-2 (Imran).
TO BAT: Mohammad Rizwan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Abbas.
BOWLING (to-date): Roach 7-3-13-2; Seales 4-2-7-1; Joseph 4-0-22-0; Holder 6-2-13-0; Mayers 4-0-5-0 (1nb).
WEST INDIES: K.C. Brathwaite, K.O.A. Powell, N.E. Bonner, R.L. Chase, J. Blackwood, K.R. Mayers, J.O. Holder, J. da Silva, A.S. Joseph, K.A.J. Roach, J.N.T. Seales.
UMPIRES: G.O. Brathwaite (West Indies) and J.S. Wilson (West Indies).
TV UMPIRE: N. Duguid (West Indies).
MATCH REFEREE: R.B. Richardson (West Indies).
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021