DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, CMC – Left-hander Darren Bravo and veteran Marlon Samuels missed out on hundreds but their contrasting half-centuries proved the catalyst, as West Indies batted the entire third day to thwart Pakistan’s victory bid in the historic day/night opening Test here yesterday.
The Caribbean side produced a sterling effort to reach 315 for six at the close, on the backs of Bravo’s top score of 87 and Samuels’s classy 76, to be 264 runs behind on first innings heading into the penultimate day of the contest at the Dubai International Stadium.
West Indies’ recent ill fortunes looked set to continue when overnight batsman Kraigg Brathwaite perished for 32 in the day’s second over without any addition to the overnight score of 69 for one.
But Bravo and Samuels – the visitors’ two most accomplished batsmen – set about stitching up the innings in a 113-run third wicket stand
Jermaine Blackwood chipped in with 37 while wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich was unbeaten on 27 at the close, partnered by captain Jason Holder on ten.
Left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz (2-53) and leg-spinner Yasir Shah (2-97) were the two most successful bowlers for Pakistan picking up two wickets apiece.
Facing a huge task at the start to get near to Pakistan’s 579 for three declared, West Indies’ mission became even more complicated with Brathwaite’s early demise, missing one from Yasir which drifted past a defensive prod to hit off-stump.
Samuels then joined Bravo to frustrate Pakistan and steer West Indies to the safety of the first interval on 138 for two.
The right-handed Samuels was typically forthright in his approach, striking 13 fours off 139 deliveries in just under 3-¼ hours at the crease while Bravo was unusually phlegmatic, requiring 258 balls and nearly 6-¾ hours for a knock that included nine fours and a six.
Unbeaten on 14 overnight, Bravo managed just 16 runs in the first session and further 26 in the second, to register his 16th Test half-century.
Samuels, however, had no such challenges. He was off the mark stylishly, cutting Yasir behind square for four and following up with a sweetly-timed punch to the extra cover boundary.
He took another pair of boundaries off Yasir a few overs later and twice also stroked seamer Sohail Khan to the boundary in the same over – the first a deft cut behind square and the second a full-blooded drive through extra cover.
The Jamaican raised his 24th Test half-century in the fourth over before the break, when he steered left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz through point for a single.
Unbeaten on exactly 50 at the interval, Samuels continued in similar vein afterward and seemed poised for a hundred when he was caught on the crease and lbw to seamer Sohail Khan, 40 minutes before tea.
Unruffled, Bravo moved to his half-century 25 minutes before the interval as he combined with Blackwood to add 77 for the fourth wicket, as West Indies reached 211 for three at the start of the final session.
The right-handed Blackwood had faced 74 balls and counted six fours when he gloved a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, pulling at an innocuous delivery from Wahab with the score on 259.
Twelve balls later with seven runs added, Roston Chase fended off a short one from Wahab to be caught around the corner by Babar Azam for six.
Any hopes of a collapse were quickly extinguished, however, as Bravo and Dowrich put on 34 for sixth wicket.
Dowrich shook off a blow to the helmet from Wahab to played positively, notching five fours in his 53-ball knock.
At the other end, Bravo looked a sure bet for his eighth Test hundred when he perished 20 minutes from the close, caught at short leg by Azhar Ali off one that spun sharply from debutant left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz.