ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, CMC – West Indies were left needing a miracle to save the second Test and avoid yet another series loss to Pakistan, after their batting again let them down on the penultimate day of the second Test here yesterday.
Set a mammoth 456 for victory, West Indies lost their top four to end on 171 for four, still requiring a further 285 on today’s final day to pull off an unlikely win at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite stroked 67 and Jermaine Blackwood was unbeaten on 41 at the close but the sound start which the Caribbean side needed in order to stave off a second defeat in the three Test series never materialised.
West Indies were 112 for two but lost Marlon Samuels for 23 and then Brathwaite in the space of four overs, to slip to 124 for four.
Blackwood then combined with Roston Chase, unbeaten on 17, in a crucial 47-run, unbroken fifth wicket stand which propped up the Windies innings.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah has so far led the Pakistan attack with two for 60.
Earlier, the hosts piled up 227 for two before declaring their second innings at lunch, leaving West Indies with five sessions to conjure up a record run chase in order to win the Test.
Resuming on 114 for one, Pakistan flourished as opener Azhar Ali extended his unbeaten 52 to a top-score of 79 while overnight partner Asad Shafiq, on five at the start, stroked an unbeaten 58 to complete his second half-century of the game and third in his last four innings.
The pair put on 71 for the second wicket, busily acquiring runs instead of going on all-out attack from the start.
Azhar had faced 137 balls and struck five fours when he perished on the stroke of the hour-mark, edging a drive at a wide delivery from Miguel Cummins to captain Jason Holder at slip, to give the right-arm seamer his only wicket of the match.
However, Azhar proved the only casualty of the session as the in-form Shafiq combined with first innings century-maker Younis Khan, to add a further 63 in an unbroken, fourth wicket stand.
While Shafiq faced 103 deliveries and counted three fours, Younis consumed 54 balls for his unbeaten 29, which included a single boundary.
Starting their run chase on resumption from lunch, West Indies were set back in the eighth over when they lost Leon Johnson for nine with the score on 28, bowled by Yasir after botching a sweep.
Brathwaite and left-hander Darren Bravo then put on 35 in a promising second wicket stand, which saw West Indies to the drinks break on 60 for one.
Three overs after the resumption, however, Bravo gifted his wicket for 13, smashing a loose, wide delivery from left-arm seamer Rahat Ali to Mohammad Nawaz at point.
In dire need of a sound partnership to steady the run chase, Brathwaite and Samuels came together in a 49-run, third wicket stand which steered the visitors to tea at 86 for two.
Brathwaite, without a significant score in the series, batted positively from the outset as he gathered boundaries off seamer Sohail Khan and Yasir, early in his innings.
He deposited left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar over the ropes at long on to power into the 30s and raised his 11th Test fifty, half-hour before the interval, when he worked Rahat through the on-side and ran three. With him unbeaten on 55 at tea with Samuels on nine, West Indies looked to be finding their stride as they pushed on purposely after the break.
But Samuels fell to Yasir 45 minutes into the session, coming down, finding himself deceived in flight and chipping a catch back to the bowler at 112 for three.
Nineteen balls later, Brathwaite followed, lbw to left-arm spinner Nawaz on the backfoot. He was initially given not out but the decision was overturned on review.
All told, he faced 133 deliveries and struck six fours and six.
With the innings in danger of collapse, Blackwood spearheaded a strong partnership with Chase, which saw West Indies safely to the close without further loss.
The right-handed Blackwood has so far faced 63 balls and struck three fours.