SHARJAH, Unite Arab Emirates – Kraigg Brathwaite carried his bat through the innings, finishing on 142, as the West Indies gained the upper hand in the third Test against Pakistan Tuesday.
The Windies opener went to his fifth Test century early on day three and helped his side establish a 56-run first innings lead before Wahab Riaz (5-88) blew away the tail in Sharjah.
The West Indies bowlers then took over, picking up four wickets for just 11 runs to reduce Pakistan to 87 for 4, a lead of just 31 runs, when bad light curtailed proceedings for the day. It was one of the Windies’ best days on their tour of the United Arab Emirates.
West Indies began the day on 244 for 6, still 37 short of Pakistan’s first innings total of 281, with Brathwaite five shy of his ton. The 23-year-old brought up the milestone from 211 balls but lost his partner Jason Holder (16) as Mohammad Amir (3-71) struck with the new ball soon after.
Holder after striking two delightful boundaries, shouldered arms to a delivery from Amir, misjudged the line, and had his stumps rattled to end a promising knock. But hopes by Pakistan of a quick capitulation did not materialise.
Brathwaite was joined by Devendra Bishoo (27) and the pair took the West Indies past Pakistan’s total and beyond 300. Bishoo proved just as gritty and determined as his senior batsman and the two added a precious 60 runs.
However, Brathwaite could only watch from the non-striker’s end as Riaz brought the innings to an abrupt end with three wickets in four overs to claim his five-for – the West Indies 337 all out. First he had Bishoo caught behind and after lofting a boundary Alzarri Joseph gave Yasir Shah catching practice at cover on 6. Last man Shannon Gabriel did not trouble the scorers before he feathered a catch behind to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali made a steady start as Pakistan went about erasing the deficit and had reached 37 for 0 before a stunning spell from Holder (3-10) left the hosts reeling.
He bounced out Sami (17) before having Asad Shafiq caught a slip for a duck – his second of the match – the following over and Younus Khan (0) was caught behind down the legside to make it three wickets in as many overs for the West Indies skipper.
Misbah-ul-Haq (4) then pulled a long-hop from Roston Chase (1-39) straight to deep backward square and Pakistan were 48 for 4.
Azhar (45 not out) and Ahmed (19 not out) recovered the situation somewhat but will return on day four knowing that there is much work still to be done if they are to prevent the West Indies claiming a consolation victory in the three-match series. The duo didn’t exactly exude command at the crease, but it was a timely stand for the hosts. In fact, Shannon Gabriel could have caused further damage to Pakistan after he forced Ahmed to fend a sharp bouncer to Brathwaite at slip, but he had overstepped by some margin. For the third time in the final Test, play was called off due to bad light.
Afterwards Holder was full of praise for Brathwaite’s knock, noting it had motivated him and the rest of the young West Indies side.”He showed great character, great composure, great faith. It was very inspirational for me and gave me the energy to go and do what we did in the end,” Holder said.
“I have played a lot of cricket with Brathwaite – Under-13, 15, 17 and 19, and now senior cricket. He has scored a lot of runs in junior cricket. He has already played 30-odd Test matches and he has been the mainstay in terms of opening partnerships,” he added.