ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Pakistan’s best batsman returned to the team after illness and made his presence felt immediately, in the second Test against the West Indies at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium today.
The great Younis Khan, with 9 456 runs, 32 centuries and a Test average of almost 54, marched to century number 33 as West Indies’ promising early start, soon disappeared into the Arabian air under the wrath of Khan.
Opting to bat first on a flat track on the opening day of the contest, the hosts were comfortably placed on 304 for four when bad light ended play with six overs remaining.
Khan, who missed last week’s historic day/night opening Test in Dubai as he recovered from a bout of dengue, stroked a high class 127 while captain Misbah-ul-Haq closed on an unbeaten 90.
Asad Shafiq, who also got a half-century in the opening Test, chimed in with a valuable 68 to help pull Pakistan around after they lost their openers cheaply.
Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was impressive despite struggling with a no-ball problem, leading the Windies attack with two for 43 from his 14 overs sent down in short spells throughout the day.
The right-armer struck as early as the fifth over of the morning when he had first Test triple century-maker Azhar Ali bowled off the inside edge without scoring, with only six runs on the board.
Shafiq arrived to add 36 for the second wicket with Sami Aslam before the left-hander perished on the stroke of the first hour, bowled for six between bat and pad missing a drive at leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.
Thereafter, however, West Indies were forced to toil for success as the 38-year-old Khan spearheaded two partnerships to limit West Indies to just two more wickets for the remainder of the day.
He and Shafiq posted 87 for the third wicket to see Pakistan safely to the lunch interval, before he added a further 175 for the fourth wicket with the unruffled Misbah, which ensured the hosts won the last two sessions.
The right-handed Shafiq played positively from the outset, getting off the mark by punching Gabriel to the backward point boundary before pulling seamer Miguel Cummins to the ropes at square leg.
He then moved effortlessly to his 16th Test half-century off just 68 balls half-hour before lunch, by delightfully stroking a wide delivery from Gabriel to the cover boundary.
Unbeaten on 54 at the break and partnered by Khan on 29, Shafiq departed 45 minutes after the resumption when he chopped on to the final delivery of the first over of a new spell from Gabriel, at 129 three.
He faced 121 balls and struck seven fours.
Younis and Misbah then took control of the game, scoring freely and at will against the Windies attack which lacked penetration.
Younis struck ten fours and a six off 205 deliveries while Misbah has so far consumed 146 balls and counted four fours and two sixes.
Both batsmen survived chances. On 83, the right-handed Younis drove a firm return catch to part-time off-spinner Kraigg Brathwaite in the last over to tea but the Windies vice-captain failed to snaffle the low offering.
And Misbah was also let off on 54 by wicketkeeper Shai Hope – in for the injured Shane Dowrich – who failed to hold on diving to his right off the unlucky Gabriel, about an hour after tea.
Younis was untroubled from the start and breezed to his half-century off 88 deliveries about 40 minutes after lunch, when he drove off-spinner Roston Chase for a couple.
He then accelerated, on-driving captain and seamer Jason Holder for four before clearing the ropes at mid-wicket with Bishoo a few overs later, to move into the 70s.
On 84 at tea, he reached triple figures 40 minutes after the resumption when he cut Chase to the square boundary. He is now ninth on the list of all-time century-makers and has the most by any active player.
Misbah, meanwhile, made his intentions clear from early, smacking Bishoo over mid-wicket and then over the ropes at long-on, before striking the Guyanese for another six a few overs later to move into the 20s.
He was on 35 at tea and raised his 35th half-century in the eighth over after the resumption with a single to point off Brathwaite.
Against the run of play – and off what turned out to be the last delivery of the day – Younis picked out Chase in the deep off Brathwaite, to give West Indies some consolation.
Pakistan 1st innings
Sami Aslam b Bishoo 6
Azhar Ali b Gabriel 0
Asad Shafiq b Gabriel 68
Younis Khan c Chase b Brathwaite 127
*Misbah-ul-Haq not out 90
Extras (lb6, nb7) 13
TOTAL (4 wkts, 84 overs) 304
To bat: +Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan, Zulfiqar Babar, Rahat Ali.
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-42, 3-129, 4-304.
Bowling: Gabriel 14-1-43-2 (nb7), Cummins 15-1-43-0, Holder 14-4-31-0, Bishoo 20-0-92-1, Chase 12-0-53-0, Brathwaite 9-0-36-1.
West Indies – *J Holder, K Brathwaite, L Johnson, D Bravo, M Samuels, J Blackwood, R Chase, +S Hope, D Bishoo, M Cummins, S Gabriel.
Umpires: M Gough, R Illingworth;
TV – P Reiffel.