West Indies were frustrated by rainy weather along with half-centuries from Azhar Ali and Babar Azam, as Pakistan got the better of the exchanges on the opening day of the decisive third Test yesterday.Rain, which savaged the post-lunch session, allowed for only 69 overs at Windsor Park, but Pakistan kept their wits about them to navigate the interruptions and reach 169 for two at the close.
Azhar was eyeing his second hundred of the series unbeaten on 85 while veteran outstanding right-hander Younis Khan, in his final match in international cricket, was on 10 not out.Babar Azam struck a solid 55 but perished in the final session to be just one of two wickets to fall in the truncated day’s play.
He and Azhar added 120 for the second wicket after left-handed opener Shan Masood fell cheaply in the opening session for just nine.The right-handed Azhar, who struck a century in the Kensington Oval Test last week, has faced 219 balls in a patient knock and struck seven fours and two sixes.
He now also requires 77 more runs to pass 5 000 runs in his 60th Test.It was his enterprise which ensured Pakistan a productive first session after they were sent in by West Indies on a sluggish pitch offering precious little to the faster bowlers.He and Masood looked at ease against new-ball bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph and West Indies turned to spin from as early as the ninth over, with the move paying dividends.
Chase, who beat Masood a couple of times with ones that spun, struck on the stroke of the first hour when he had the batsman edging a defensive prod low to captain Jason Holder at second slip with the score on 19.However, Azhar and Azam then denied West Indies any further success, batting purposefully to guide Pakistan safely to lunch at 70 for one.Azhar, in particular, showed positive intent, twice depositing Chase over the ropes – first over long on and then over midwicket – in successive overs.
Rain delayed the resumption by nearly 40 minutes and when play finally got under way, only two overs were sent down before the adverse weather returned to drive players from the field again, with Pakistan on 75 without further loss.When play finally got under way again under clearer skies following the scheduled tea break, the Windies missed a chance to put Pakistan on the back foot when wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich dropped a chance off Azam on 28 after the right-hander edged leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo behind, in the third over after the resumption.