FLORENCE HALL, Jamaica, CMC – Weather, and a budding partnership between Ahmed Shehzad and Asad Shafiq combined to loosen the grip of the WICB President’s XI after Vishaul Singh completed his sixth first-class hundred to give them the edge in their tour match against Pakistan yesterday here.
Left-arm fast-medium bowler Raymon Reifer was the pick of the President’s XI bowlers with 2-17 from 12 overs, but a defiant Shehzad was unbeaten on 53 and Shafiq was not out on 23, as the Pakistanis reached 129 for four before bad light stopped play more than an hour later than scheduled on the weather-marred second day of the contest at the Trelawny Multiplex.
The visitors were replying to the hosts’ first innings total of 419 in which Singh was the cornerstone, batting resolutely for close to six hours for an undefeated 135 that broke a run of insignificant scores for the pocket-sized Guyanese left-hander and extended the team’s innings to 20 minutes past the scheduled lunch interval.
Reifer and the rest of President’s XI’s attack then had the visitors on their heels before a delay for bad light and rain slowed them down for about an hour.
Bowling first change, he made the breakthrough, when he had left-handed opener Shan Masood caught at first slip for 14 from a top-edged cut to leave Pakistan 32 for one.
Keon Joseph, Reifer’s Guyana Jaguars teammate, added the scalp of Azhar Ali five overs later, caught behind for four, as the Pakistanis reached 63 for two at tea.
Reifer struck again with his first delivery of a new spell in the second over after the break, when Younus Khan nibbled at a delivery angled across him and was caught behind for seven to leave the tourists on 64 for three.
When the gathering gloom enveloped the ground, the President’s XI were just beginning to put the squeeze on Shehzad and his captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who survived a succession of lbw appeals against Rahkeem Cornwall and earned a respite from the weather delay.
On resumption however, leg-spinner Damion Jacobs had Misbah caught at forward short leg for eight to a catch which the soon-to-be-retired Pakistan captain felt the fielder had taken on the hop.
The President’s XI met resistance when Shafiq came to the crease and batted through another 45 minutes before the umpires ushered the players off the field for bad light with seven overs remaining.
Earlier, Singh reached his milestone to signal an end to a barren period with the bat this year, as the President’s XI, overnight 311 for five, took their innings past the time scheduled for lunch.
The Guyanese left-hander started the day on 81 and was fortunate on 85 when Azhar Ali dropped a straightforward chance at gully off left-arm fast bowler Muhammad Amir.
Singh quickly regained his composure and continued to bat with aplomb while the rest of the batting collapsed around him.
Reifer was bowled for 45, essaying a lofted drive at Hassan Ali following a stand of 93 for the sixth wicket with Singh, who still needed two at the time of the dismissal.
Singh duly reached his hundred when he chopped his short, 180th ball from Ali to third man for a deuce.
He put on a further 51 for the seventh wicket with Rahkeem Cornwall, whose dismissal caught at deep mid-wicket for 28 off part-time off-spinner Asad Shafiq triggered a slide.
Kemar Roach was caught at short leg for a duck off Shafiq two balls later before Yasir Shah trapped Jacobs lbw also for a duck, as three wickets fell for one run in the space off six balls to leave the President’s XI 389 for nine.
Last man Joseph came to the crease and resisted for 40 minutes with his Jaguars teammates to take the total past 400 and make the Pakistanis wait a little longer to get off their feet.