BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Phlegmatic right-hander Roston Chase carved out a fluent unbeaten hundred to avert another West Indies catastrophe and frustrate Pakistan, on the opening day of the second Test at Kensington Oval here Sunday.
With the innings threatening to come apart at the seams at 37 for three in the first session, the 25-year-old Chase stepped up to hit an unbeaten 131 – his second Test hundred – to propel West Indies to 286 for six at the close.
Chase got support from captain Jason Holder who struck a composed unbeaten 58 while opener Kieran Powell chipped in with 38 and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, 29.
New-ball seamers Mohammad Abbas (2-47) and Mohammad Amir (2-52) both finished with two wickets apiece but Pakistan’s bowlers were forced to toil without success in the final session as West Indies dominated.
Chase anchored three key partnerships to fuel West Indies’ revival, the chief of which was an attractive 132-run seventh wicket stand with Holder.
All told, the right-handed Chase faced 207 deliveries in three hours and nine minutes at the crease and struck 17 fours while Holder has counted eight boundaries in an innings spanning 125 balls and 161 minutes.
Opting to bat first, West Indies seemed doomed to repeat the first Test tragedy when they lost their first three wickets cheaply.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite failed for the third straight innings with nine when he pushed tentatively at one from left-armer Amir and nicked a catch behind in the morning’s fifth over, with the score on 12.
Four balls later in the following over with a single run added, left-hander Shimron Hetmyer (1) slashed at a side ball from Abbas and was well taken high at third slip by Azhar Ali.
Shai Hope once again failed to impress, batting nearly an hour for his five before edging a defensive prod at leg-spinner Yasir Shah and giving wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed a straightforward catch, 45 minutes before lunch.
Chase and Powell then combined in a 65-run, fourth wicket stand that settled the innings and steered West Indies to lunch at 72 for three.
The left-handed Powell never appeared troubled in his 83-ball and near 2-1/2 hour stay at the crease that included five fours but perished in the sixth over after lunch, lbw to Amir on review after he was initially given not out.
Three overs later, left-hander Vishal Singh’s tough initiation continued when he edged the 13th ball he faced from Abbas low to Younis Khan at second slip to depart for three and leave West Indies on 107 for five, 40 minutes after the break.
Not for the first time, Chase found an ally in Dowrich, and together they steadied the innings in a 47-run, sixth wicket partnership which blunted Pakistan’s attack.
Dowrich had struck five fours in an innings lasting 54 deliveries and just over an hour when he edged a leg-break from debutant Shadab Khan to Younis at slip, to fall 14 minutes before tea.
At the crossroads at 154 for six, West Indies gathered momentum through the enterprise of Chase and Holder.
Unbeaten on 23 at lunch, Chase brought up his third Test half-century, 40 minutes after the resumption when he pulled a short one from Yasir to the ropes at mid-wicket, and was unbeaten on 70 at tea with Holder yet to score.
Chase then strolled to three figures an hour and 20 minutes after tea, raising the landmark with a delightful cover drive off Shadab, to follow up his brilliant maiden hundred against India at Sabina Park last August.
Not to be left out, Holder notched his sixth Test half-century and second in as many matches, bringing up the milestone late in the day with a couple to third man off Amir.