Hope for Windies
Battle of attrition heading towards exciting climax
Stylish strokemaker Shai Hope agonizingly missed out on a maiden Test hundred in an admirable West Indies batting effort. But a clatter of wickets late Wednesday evening opened the door for Pakistan and set up an intriguing finale to the second Test at Kensington Oval.
The Barbadian right-hander struck an accomplished career-best 90, an innings that lifted West Indies to 264 for nine in their second innings – a lead of 183 runs heading into tomorrow’s last day of the contest.
Hope’s knock underlined West Indies’ resilience over the first two sessions which saw them reach 197 for four at tea before a collapse in the final session saw the hosts squander the momentum they had carefully gathered.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite struck 43, left-hander Vishaul Singh chipped in with 32 while Roston Chase scored 23, as West Indies battled hard on a wearing track.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah once again proved the danger man, picking up six for 90 to post his 10th five-wicket haul in Tests, while enterprising seamer Mohammad Abbas claimed two for 57.
Resuming the day on 40 for one, West Indies lost Shimron Hetmyer in the day’s third over before the left-hander had added to his overnight 22, bowled by one from left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir which came back to shatter the stumps, with a single run added to the overnight score. Amir had claimed his wicket in similar fashion in the first Test in Jamaica.
Brathwaite and Hope then energized the innings with a 56-run, third wicket stand which saw the hosts safely through the next hour. Without a score of note in the series, Brathwaite appeared focused on notching a big one in an innings which lasted 111 deliveries in nearly 2-1/2 hours at the crease and included four boundaries.
But he perished 34 minutes before lunch when he got one from Shah which bounced, took the shoulder of the bat, for Younis Khan to pull off a brilliant one-handed catch, leaping high to his right at slip.
Hope then anchored a 58-run fourth wicket partnership with Chase to deny Pakistan any further success for the session and steer the Windies to 112 for three at lunch.
Both players looked in good touch afterwards, with Hope especially growing in confidence, driving left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir straight for four and then hammering Shah to the cover boundary in the following over.
The right-handed Chase looked untroubled in 83 balls in nearly 1-3/4 hours at the crease before he was dismissed, driving a delivery back to Shah at 155 for four, 40 minutes before tea. Chase was out-foxed by Shah who was bowling over the wicket, but then changed the angle by coming around the wicket. Chase played the tossed up delivery with hard hands and was caught and bowled.
Hope, however, continued to steady the innings, this time finding an ally in Singh to help post 80 for the fifth wicket and ensure West Indies were consolidating at tea on 197 for four. He reached his maiden Test half-century half-hour before tea and was unbeaten at the break on 68, with Singh on 18.
Hope hardly played a false stroke in an innings spanning 209 deliveries, just over 5-1/4 hours and including eight fours and a six and looked a sure bet to reach triple figures. But he suddenly lost concentration and drove Shah uppishly to cover where Azhar Ali snared a simple catch head-high, an hour-and-a-half after tea at 235 for five.
His dismissal triggered a decline as five wickets tumbled for 26 runs to see Pakistan haul their way back into the game.
Without a run added, Singh played on to Abbas off the first ball of the next over and captain Jason Holder (1) perished in the following over from Shah with one run added to the total, neatly caught by Younis at slip after playing at a harmless delivery wide outside the off-stump.
Scenting further success, Pakistan made quick inroads into the tail. Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich spent 10 balls and three-quarters of an hour over two before gloving a catch to Asad Shafiq running around from slip and Alzarri Joseph lasted 11 deliveries for his seven before clipping a full toss from Yasir low to Amir at short mid-wicket. Devendra Bishoo and Shannon Gabriel are the not out batsmen on 16 and zero respectively.