TEST SQUAD STARTS PREPARING TO AVOID 9-0 REPORT CARD
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates – Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo warmed up for next week’s first Test against Pakistan with a three-wicket haul.
But Iftikhar Ahmed led a trio of batsmen with half-centuries as the Pakistan Cricket Board Patron’s XI got the better of the exchanges on the opening day of the three-day tour match today.
Opting to bat first in the day/night contest, the hosts batted all three sessions at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to finish on 241 for five with Iftikhar top-scoring with 63, Shan Masood getting 58 and Ahmed Shehzad scoring 52.
Right-armer Bishoo was the best of the Caribbean side’s bowlers with three for 77 from 29 overs.
The Windies tasted early success when fast bowler Miguel Cummins plucked out Mohammad Hafeez with the first ball of the afternoon’s third over, without a single run on the board.
However, opener Masood and Shehzad came together to repair the innings in a second wicket stand of 101 – the first of three successive productive partnerships that denied West Indies any abundance of success.
Masood, who played the last of his nine Tests last July, struck three fours and two sixes in an innings spanning 191 deliveries and just under 4-1/4 hours.
Shehzad, meanwhile, faced 130 balls in three hours at the crease, and counted four fours and a six, before becoming Bishoo’s first wicket.
Masood then added a further 43 for the third wicket with Iftikhar before falling to Bishoo with the score on 143 for three.
Any hopes of making deep inroads into the Patron’s XI batting were thwarted by the right-handed Iftikhar who anchored a 63-run fourth wicket stand with captain Fawad Alam who made 32.
The 26-year-old, who made his Test debut against England last August, faced 103 deliveries in 2-1/4 hours at the crease and stroked six fours and two sixes while Fawad struck three fours in his 52-ball knock.
Both fell to Bishoo four balls apart in the same over with one run added but yet again, the Patron’s XI ensured there was no collapse as wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, who was unbeaten on 26, and Asif Zakir (9 not out) put on 34 in an unbroken sixth wicket stand.
After the day’s play Bishoo said the Pakistan batting line up held no terrors for him.
The 30-year-old is expected next week to be in the line-up to come up against the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali. The prolific Younis Khan, who is on the brink of becoming the first Pakistani to reach 10 000 runs in Tests, will however miss the first Test while he finishes recuperating from a recent illness.
Bishoo said he was prepared for the challenge and the ongoing three-day tour match against the Pakistan Cricket Board Patron’s XI would be key to his warm-up.
“Over the years they’ve (Pakistan’s batsmen) been playing good spinners, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka [all play spin well] but at the end of the day, as good spin bowlers, you need to do the right thing,” the Guyanese told reporters.
“You need to pitch the ball in the right areas, bowl proper spin and you will get the rewards.”
He added: “They (Misbah and Younis) are senior batsmen and I’ve bowled to them already so it’s just a matter of me going and doing well in my cricket.”
Commenting on the day’s play, Bishoo said: “The wicket was a bit slow so I was just trying to take my time and get through my spell.
“It is very good practice because since we came we didn’t have an intense game. But now I’m getting a lot of overs in and I’m feeling comfortable.”
West Indies have had a troubled tour, whitewashed in the three-match Twenty20 International series and the just concluded three-match One-Day International series. They will be hoping to stave off Pakistan’s bid to complete a 9-0 overall series whitwash.
Bishoo said the Test series carried huge importance from a personal and team standpoint.
“I’m just looking forward to having a good series,” he stressed.
“It’s a very, very important series for me, from my side of it and the team too. I’m just looking to go out there and do my best and try to enjoy my cricket as much as possible.”