Roseau - Azhar Ali's 14th Test century anchored Pakistan to
a first innings total of 376 as the tourists batted with exaggerated care on
the second day of the third and final Test against the West Indies on Thursday.
Left to negotiate 11 overs to the close of play at Windsor
Park in Dominica, the West Indies reached 14 without loss in reply.
Pakistan's innings occupied all of 146.3 overs at a scoring
rate of just over two-and-a-half runs per over, a puzzlingly pedestrian rate of
progress on a benign pitch, especially as victory would give Pakistan their
first-ever Test series win in the Caribbean in eight attempts.
After crawling along in the morning session, when only 58
runs came off 28 overs in two-and-a-half hours of play for the loss of Younis
Khan's wicket, the tourists attempted to accelerate with captain Misbah-ul-Haq
releasing the shackles of virtual strokelessness in getting to 59.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed was by far the most enterprising
of all in the Pakistan batting line-up though, being ninth out for 51 off 73
"We wanted to get over 400 but losing wickets in the
afternoon caused us to lose a bit of momentum," Ahmed explained after the
day's play. "I just went out there with a positive intent, looking to put
the bowlers off and keep the score moving along."
Off-spinner Roston Chase was the prime beneficiary of the
visitors' belated attempt at acceleration, finishing with four for 103 while
captain Jason Holder claimed three for 71, including two wickets off
consecutive deliveries after tea that ended any reasonable prospect for
Pakistan getting to a total in excess of 400.
Chase ended Azhar Ali's eight-hour vigil just after lunch in
bowling the opening batsman for 127 before adding the wickets of Asad Shafiq
Painfully slow at the start of his innings, the Pakistan
skipper showed a greater degree of urgency through the afternoon, adding 51 and
completing a 39th fifty in Test cricket.
His intentions for the final session were obvious when he
smashed leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo back overhead for four and then hoisted
Chase for six over long-on.
But the bowler had the last laugh with the next delivery as
an attempted reverse-sweep by Misbah gave wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich the
opportunity to make amends for two earlier errors in the innings.
While 84 runs came in the middle session of the day, it
still could not adequately compensate for their bewilderingly slow rate of
scoring in the morning when both Ali and Misbah seemed more intent on
occupation of the crease than scoring runs.
Unbeaten on 85 overnight with the total at a promising 169
for two, Ali added 37 of the morning's 58 runs in getting to his 14th Test
century and second in consecutive matches.
Yet it was not one of his more memorable efforts and by the
time he fell, missing an attempted sweep at Chase, he had faced 334 balls and
struck two sixes and eight fours.
Misbah had come to the crease after Younis, who is also
bowing out of international cricket after this match, was trapped leg-before by
West Indies captain Jason Holder for 18 inside the first hour of a bright,
He should have departed without scoring but for another
error behind the stumps by Dowrich.
Having put down Babar Azam off Bishoo the day before, the
wicketkeeper was inexplicably wrong-footed and failed to hold on to a low
chance to the exasperation of Holder the suffering bowler.