KINGSTON, Jamaica – Kemar Roach conjured up an exemplary three-wicket haul to inch within four wickets of drawing level with the legendary Sir Garry Sobers on the all-time West Indies list, but half-centuries from Fawad Alam and captain Babar Azam inspired a strong Pakistan response, on Friday’s opening day of the second Test at Sabina Park.
In punishing humidity in Jamaica’s capital, Pakistan ended the day on 212 for four with Fawad Alam top-scoring with 76 before being forced to retire with heat exhaustion, while Babar stroked 75 before becoming Roach’s third victim midway through the final session.
The pair were instrumental in pulling the innings around from the ruins of two runs for three wickets in the morning’s fourth over, as they put on a magnificent 158 for the fourth wicket.
When Babar departed, hopes of making inroads into the visitors lower order were dashed, however, as Faheem Ashraf (23 not out) and Mohammad Rizwan (22 not out) calmly added 44 in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand to deny West Indies any further success.
Roach ended with three for 49 to move his career tally to 231 wickets, within touching distance of Sir Garry on 235, and with Michael Holding’s mark of 249 also within reach.
It was the seasoned campaigner’s two-wicket burst at the start of the morning which handed West Indies the early advantage, as Pakistan stumbled after being asked to bat in a must-win encounter for them.
“It was a hard day for us. It was very, very hot and obviously for the first hour there was some moisture in the pitch and we utilised that,” bowling coach Roddy Estwick said afterwards.
“But once the pitch eased out, you’ve got to give credit to [Babar and Fawad]. I thought they batted very well.
“But what I thought we did well after tea, is we stopped the scoring. We were able to frustrate them and what we’ve been asking for now is discipline and they really showed that, so credit to the bowlers as well.”
Roach initiated the early drama with just the third ball of the morning when he found the outside edge of Abid Ali’s bat after the right-hander had scored only one, Jermaine Blackwood taking a low catch at third slip.
And in his next over, the high quality seamer removed Azhar Ali without scoring, the right-hander edging an uncertain defensive prod to wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva.
Impressive teenager Jayden Seales added to Pakistan woes in the fourth over when he drew Imran Butt into a defensive stroke and had him caught at the wicket for one, West Indies earning the decision courtesy of DRS after umpire Gregory Brathwaite had ruled him not out..
Babar and Fawad then combined to frustrate West Indies for the better part of the next four hours, carrying Pakistan to lunch at 62 for three and dominating the second session to be 145 for three at tea.
The right-handed Babar, stylish and composed, struck 13 fours off 174 deliveries while Fawad, slightly unorthodox in his stance but compact, faced 149 balls and counted 11 fours.
On 31 at lunch, Babar marched to his 18th Test half-century about half-hour following the resumption when he clipped Roach to the backward square boundary, to be unbeaten on 65 at tea.
Fawad, meanwhile, added his second half-century of the series to his four career Test hundreds when he struck the second of two fours from fast bowler Alzarri Joseph’s fifth over – a dismissive pull to the mid-wicket boundary – on the stroke of the drinks break.
Unbeaten at tea on 67, Fawad was forced off 20 minutes following the resumption, after visibly struggling amid the extreme heat with the score on 160.
With only eight runs added, Roach finally got the breakthrough in the first over after the drinks break when Babar edged one that left him, and was brilliantly taken inches from the turf by Jason Holder lunging forward at second slip.
The home side’s valiant attempts for another wicket before the close came to nothing, however, as Faheem and Rizwan proved unshakable before bad light ironically ended play early. (CMC)
PAKISTAN 1st Innings
Abid Ali c Blackwood b Roach 1
Imran Butt c wkp Da Silva b Seales 1
Azhar Ali c wkp Da Silva b Roach 0
*Babar Azam c Holder b Roach 75
Fawad Alam ret. hurt 76
+Mohammad Rizwan not out 22
Faheem Ashraf not out 23
Extras (b1, lb8, nb5) 14
TOTAL (4 wkts, 74 overs) 212
To bat: Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Abbas
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Abid Ali), 2-2 (Azhar Ali), 3-2 (Imran Butt), 4-168 (Babar Azam)
Bowling: Roach 17-6-49-3 (nb1), Seales 11-3-25-1, Joseph 12-1-54-0, Holder 15-7-25-0, Mayers 11-5-17-0 (nb2), Chase 7-0-27-0, Bonner 1-0-6-0 (nb2).
WEST INDIES – Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Kieran Powell, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Kyle Mayers, Nkrumah Bonner, Jason Holder, Joshua Da Silva, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: Gregory Brathwaite, Joel Wilson; TV – Nigel Duguid.