KINGSTON, Jamaica – Captain Kraigg Brathwaite was tragically run out agonisingly short of a tenth Test hundred but his resolve helped frustrate Pakistan and put West Indies in front, on the second day of the opening Test at Sabina Park Friday.
Triple figures for the tenacious 28-year-old seemed all but inevitable when he reached 96 but a costly misjudgement of a second run to fine leg with Joshua Da Silva (20 not out) late in the day, saw him perish for 97.
Former captain Jason Holder had earlier struck 58 while vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood (22) and Roston Chase (21) chipped in to propel the home side to 251 for eight, when deteriorating light forced the close.
Resuming the morning with West Indies in a spot of bother on two runs for two wickets, Brathwaite faced 221 deliveries in a shade over six hours and struck a dozen fours, to shoulder responsibility for the innings.
In his singular, and albeit fatal, error of the entire day, he tickled ineffective leg-spinner Yasir Shah fine and sprinted the first run and almost without hesitation, turned for the second.
However, Hasan Ali was on to the ball quicker than Brathwaite anticipated and the resulting direct hit at the striker’s end found the opener well short of his ground, despite a desperate dive.
“I’m obviously not feeling too good. From a team point of view, I would’ve loved to be there at the end but obviously [it was a] misjudgement from me,” a subdued Brathwaite said following play.
“As soon as I turned [I knew I was in trouble] but I committed because I thought it went fine enough for two, so I committed to two.
“Then when I took off [for the second] I was in shock. Obviously he (Hasan Ali) had [the ball] in his hand and then the only thing that would’ve saved me is if Josh told me ‘no’.”
Da Silva remained unbeaten on 20 off 62 deliveries, after adding 28 for the eighth wicket with Kemar Roach (13), leaving West Indies ahead by 34 runs heading into Saturday’s third day.
The balance of the game tilted back and forth throughout the day as seamer Mohammad Abbas added a wicket to his two overnight to claim three for 42 and new-ball partner Shaheen Shah Afrid picked up two in as many deliveries after lunch to end with two for 59.
West Indies got the solid start they required when Brathwaite anchored the first of his two half-century stands, adding exactly 50 with Chase to keep Pakistan without success inside the first hour.
Yet to score at the start, Chase faced 51 deliveries and counted three fours before falling in the third over following the drinks break, caught behind wafting at a wide one from Hasan Ali.
Brathwaite then partnered with Blackwood in a 49-run, fourth wicket stand which took West Indies to lunch at 81 for three, before things threatened to fall apart after the resumption.
On 14 at the interval, Blackwood never really settled and eventually dragged Afridi from outside off-stump to provide Abbas with a regulation catch at mid-on, a familiar mode of dismissal for the right-handed Jamaican.
And off the very next delivery, left-hander Kyle Mayers played back and was struck plumb lbw, leaving the Windies tottering on 100 for five, 40 minutes after lunch.
But Holder arrived to join Brathwaite and the resulting 96-run, sixth wicket stand bailed West Indies out of trouble and took them to tea on 148 without further loss.
Reprieved by DRS after being given out lbw before he had scored in the same over from Afridi which accounted for Blackwood and Mayers, Holder made the most of the life, punching ten fours off 108 deliveries in just over 2-¼ hours at the crease.
He was unbeaten on 30 at tea and reached his 11th Test half-century with a commanding pull for four off Afridi, 45 minutes following the interval.
Completely against the run of play, he nicked a defensive push at seamer Faheem Ashraf on the stroke of the hour.
Brathwaite, on 35 at lunch, reached his half-century 40 minutes before tea with a clip to the backward square boundary off Faheem, and was unbeaten on 60 at the second interval.
The majority of his boundaries came in the arc between cover and mid-off, courtesy of a series of sweetly-timed front-foot drives and a hundred appeared the most fitting outcome before tragedy struck. (CMC)