Yasir Shah’s stranglehold of the West Indies batsmen continued on the fourth day of the second Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Wednesday (May 3) as he snared 6 for 90 to reopen the prospects of a first Test match victory at the venue for Pakistan going into the final day.
Despite a patient, disciplined Test best of 90 from Shai Hope and a succession of half-century partnerships that raised expectations of West Indies batting their way to safety, they slipped from the relative comfort of 235 for 4 to be 264 for 9 at stumps. They go into the last day ahead by 183 runs with the last pair at the crease after Pakistan responded to their first-innings total of 312 with 393.
On a deteriorating pitch, Pakistan’s final target may still be a challenging one as they seek the historic win, which would also give them their first Test series triumph in the Caribbean.
Man of the Match in the seven-wicket win the first Test in Jamaica, Yasir was again the key performer when it mattered most for Pakistan. Hope appeared to have blunted the threat successfully through more than five hours of watchful batsmanship. However, within sight of a maiden Test century, he drove Yasir to cover where Azhar Ali held the catch that triggered the late slide.
Having broken an 80-run fifth-wicket partnership with Vishaul Singh, Pakistan were celebrating again off the very next delivery as Vishaul was on his way back to the pavilion, bowled off the inside edge by Mohammad Abbas for 32.
Three wickets fell for one run when Younis Khan held his fifth catch of the match, a brilliant reflex effort at slip to remove Jason Holder off Yasir. In his farewell series, like Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis is now the only fielder to have taken 50 catches after the age of 35 in Test cricket.
“It’s about staying fit and staying sharp and expectant in the field,” said Younis later. “This pitch is pretty much like what we play on at home and in the UAE, so if we play properly and concentrate we should be able to get whatever the target is on the last day.”
In rampant mood after the late success, Yasir then sent back Shane Dowrich and Alzarri Joseph in quick succession just before the close to leave Devendra Bishoo and Shannon Gabriel to carry the fight into the last day.
With more and more questions being asked about his continued presence in the side given a paltry average of 15.40 and a top score of 41 prior to this innings, Hope went a long way in responding to the critics in a situation where West Indies were always likely to capitulate.
He came to the crease in the morning after Pakistan struck an early blow when West Indies resumed at 40 for 1, Mohammad Amir bowling Shimron Hetmyer before he could add to his overnight score of 22.
Kraigg Brathwaite continued to bat resolutely in partnership with Hope, the pair putting on 56 for the third wicket despite the varying challenges posed by Pakistan’s combination of pace and wrist spin.
It was Yasir, the more experienced of the specialist slow bowlers, who provided the breakthrough when he removed Brathwaite for 43. Fresh from a century in the first innings, Roston Chase proved an able partner to Hope for the rest of the morning and then deep into the afternoon session, their fourth-wicket stand producing 58 invaluable runs when Chase was deceived by a flighted Yasir delivery to be caught-and-bowled for 23.