West Indies spend all day/night in the field

- Azhar Ali makes 11th Test century

DUBAI, United Arab EmiratesCMC – Beleaguered West Indies endured another chastening day here Thursday as opener Azhar Ali stroked his 11th Test hundred to spearhead Pakistan’s domination of the opening day of the historic day/night first Test.

The visitors were kept in the field all day at the Dubai International Stadium as Pakistan, opting to bat first, finished on 279 for one with Azhar ending unbeaten on a superb 146.

He put on 215 for the first wicket with 20-year-old partner Sami Aslam who fell for 90, a partnership which was the country’s fourth highest opening stand in Tests.

Asad Shafiq was looking ominous at the close, unbeaten on 33, already having shared a 64-run, partnership for the second wicket with Azhar.

Off-spinner Roston Chase, who has sent down 21 overs – the most by any bowler – claimed the only wicket to fall to finish with one for 63.

He accounted for Sami Aslam, bowled off the under edge, half-way through the final session with the advantage firmly in Pakistan’s favour. Having lost every game on tour courtesy of humbling 3-0 whitewashes in the preceding Twenty20 and One-Day International series, West Indies would have been hoping for a brighter start but instead found themselves at the mercy of the opening pair of Azhar and Sami Aslam.

The duo hardly put a foot wrong as they comfortably batted through the first two sessions, carrying Pakistan to 81 without loss at lunch and 172 without loss at the second interval.

Opener Azhar Ali … finished the day unbeaten on 146.
Opener Azhar Ali … finished the day unbeaten on 146.

The right-handed Azhar, playing in his 50th Test, has faced 268 balls in six hours at the crease and counted 14 fours while the left-handed Sami Aslam struck nine fours in an innings spanning 212 balls and just over 4-¾ hours.

Neither batsman suffered much alarm during the first session as the West Indies bowlers failed to produce anything threatening with the pink ball in only the second ever day/night Test.

In fact, their best chance of the session came when Azhar slashed pacer Miguel Cummins in the air through gully where Leon Johnson was late in responding, as the ball raced to the boundary. Sami Aslam, opting for the sheet anchor role, registered his first boundary after 64 deliveries when he came down to part-time off-spinner Kraigg Brathwaite and struck him to the wide mid-on boundary.

He followed up with another straight hit for four off the very next delivery.

At the break, he was unbeaten on 36 with Azhar on 39, and it was the junior partner who pushed on after the break to reach his half-century first with a cut to the point boundary off Chase, half-hour after the resumption.

Azhar, meanwhile, survived a review for lbw off seamer and captain Jason Holder in the second over after lunch, with television replays showing the delivery missing  leg.

However, he soon settled to raise his half-century by punching pacer Miguel Cummins to extra cover for a couple, about 45 minutes after the interval.

He celebrated with back-to-back boundaries off Devendra Bishoo off the first two deliveries of the leg-spinner’s sixth over, and also smashed speedster Shannon Gabriel to the backward point boundary off the first ball of a new spell, to race into the 70s.

The pair raised the 150-run opening stand half-hour before the second interval when Azhar clipped Gabriel to mid-wicket for a single, and were in full command at the break with Azhar eyeing triple figures on 89 and Sami Aslam on 75.

Azhar then made history in the sixth over after the interval by becoming the first century-maker in day/night Tests when he stroked Chase through mid-off for his 10th boundary.

However, there was no such luck for Sami Aslam as he added 15 runs before finally perishing agonisingly short of his maiden hundred, when he botched a sweep at Chase and was bowled.

His dismissal, however, brought no respite for the Windies as Asad Shafiq, who has faced 66 deliveries and struck four fours, joined Azhar to extend the fielding side’s misery.

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