Brian Lara’s West Indies are stuttering in their second innings after they had conceded a massive first innings lead of 289. But the Skipper Brian Lara is there in the middle and as long as he is there Pakistan will be on their toes. At stumps on Day 3, West Indies closed at 74 for 3 having faced 21 overs spread before Tea and after the Tea Break. A shocking umpiring decision and a run out have put the visitors under tremendous pressure.
The tourists couldn’t have asked for a better start this morning as they had the homeside restricted to 285 for 6 from the overnight score of 265 for 4. Shoaib Malik added just 8 more to his previous night score of 61 before he had chipped a down the legs delivery to square leg off Jerome Taylor. Abdul Razzaq who got ahead of Kamran Akmal in the batting showed his vulnerability to the moving ball as he poked at an away going delivery from Taylor to the Keeper. West Indies’ pacers, Jerome Taylor and Corey Collymore looked threatening as they got the ball to move around in the overcast conditions. The luck of West Indies soon faded with the sun coming out blazing and with that the movement off the pitch and in the air was nullified.
With Mohammad Yousuf carrying on from where he had left in yesterday’s play and with Kamran Akmal playing like a pocket size dynamite, the fielders were kept busy chasing the ball. Pak safely went to lunch at 396 for 6 with Yousuf moving onto 163 while Kamran Akmal had fetched himself a fourth Test match fifty. The first session which is a two and hours one saw the homeside add up 131 runs in the 35 overs bowled. The run rate had picked up considerably thanks to Akmal’s blazing drives.
In the post lunch session, it was Chris Gayle who had stopped what was going to be some carnage as he removed Kamran Akmal in his first over of the day. Akmal had flicked an off break that had stopped onto the bat to Lara at short mid wicket. By then enough damage was done with Kamran Akmal smashing 78 with 13 fours from 121 balls to add up a 148 run stand for the 7th wicket! Chris Gayle soon produced a magic delivery to prevent Yousuf from registering yet another double century. It was a straighter one that had drifted away to beat Yousuf’s intentions of driving that through the covers. Denesh Ramdin took the bails off in time seeing Yousuf’s backleg dragged out of the crease and Asoka de Silva at square leg didn’t have to go upstairs to refer that decision! Mohammad Yousuf finally departed making 192 that had come in 330 balls with 24 boundaries and a six he hit today off Dave Mohammed.
Dave Mohammed captured the wickets of the tail enders Shahid Nazir and Danish Kaneria to end the innings at 485 in 146 overs. The wicket was flattening out so much that even the last pair of Umar Gul and Danish Kaneria was playing their fancy shots to put on 39 runs. West Indies had to bat for about 30 minutes or so before the Tea Break and were off to a dismal start with Ganga sent back by Gayle after an attempt to steal a leg bye. It was Imran Farhat contributing to the dismissal as he quickly moved to his right at square leg to pick up and score a direct hit to find Ganga short of his crease. The icing on the cake for Pak was given by Umar Gul who had got Chris Gayle to edge him to Kamran Akmal. Gayle didn’t move his feet at all to an awkward length that had him in two minds whether to get onto the frontfoot or get back in the crease. In the 5 overs that were possible in the second innings before the Tea Break, Windies were down at 28 for 2.
The last session required Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan to show some character in their batting which they had started to do so in their style. But Asoka de Silva spoilt the impressive fight back by raising his crooked finger when Umar Gul had got one to nip back and strike Sarwan above his knee roll. Sarwan was looking good with 23 which had 5 fours and he was indeed hard done by that ridiculous decision that will have an impact on the match result. Fidel Edwards was sent in to shield Chanderpaul and others and the fast bowler had done his night watchman duty to perfection as he survived 19 deliveries. As soon as light was offered by the two officials, there was no looking back with the players getting to safety. It was another shortened day of cricket with just 76 overs bowled, so effectively this math is like a four-day game!
All is not over for the tourists who need to believe in their ability to stick around. The wicket is a flat one, so a couple of batsmen need to get hundreds to rescue their side. Pakistan will try to field well to support their bowlers. Danish Kaneria will certainly be the danger man tomorrow!