Windies 184-8 chasing 272

Basseterre, St Kitts, CMC – Marlon Samuels hit a half-century in his first Test innings in three years but West Indies were left facing a tall order after yet again falling to Pakistan’s spinners on the second day of the Second Digicel Test on Saturday.

 

The right-hander stroked a typically fluent 57 as West Indies, replying to Pakistan’s 272 all out, finished the day at Warner Park on 184-8, still 88 runs behind.

 

Not for the first time in the series, West Indies batsmen fell to the visitors’ spin attack with off-spinners Mohammad Hafeez (2-16) and Saeed Ajmal (2-49), along with left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman (2-46), doing the bulk of the damage.

 

Only Samuels, Darren Bravo (24) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (20) made it into the 20s as West Indies were made to work hard for runs on a pitch that assisted the slower bowlers.

 

Earlier, West Indies were frustrated by Tanvir Ahmed’s maiden Test half-century before finally dismissing Pakistan on the stroke of lunch, after the tourists resumed the day on 180-6.

 

West Indies got quick wickets in the morning session to reduce the Pakistanis to 194 for nine but Tanvir cracked a breezy 57 to dominate a crucial last-wicket partnership of 78 with  Ajmal (23 not out), and add precious runs.

 

Tanvir faced 96 balls and struck 10 fours, benefitting from loose bowling and overly defensive tactics while Ajmal supported well with one four and a top-edged six to third man in facing 79 balls.

 

It took a straight delivery from leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo (3-80) to account for Tanvir lbw on the backfoot. Fast bowler Ravi Rampaul finished with 3-68 while captain Darren Sammy chipped in with 2-70 with his medium pace.

 

West Indies’ reply started disastrously when in-form opener Lendl Simmons fell without scoring, edging a big drive off the second ball of the innings from seamer Tanvir, to be caught at second slip by Taufeeq Umar.

 

Debutant opener Kraigg Brathwaite adjusted well but after he reached 15, also edged a drive at a wide ball from left-armer Wahab Riaz to Taufeeq, with the score on 22-2.

 

Experienced right-hander Ramnaresh Sarwan counter-attacked, twice pulling Wahab for boundaries and punching the left-armer through cover for another four, in an over that cost 14 runs.

 

Smart work from keeper Mohammad Salman saw him eventually stumped off Ajmal as Windies dipped to 54-3. It paved the way for Samuels, appearing in a Test for the first time since March, 2008 to perform a much-needed rescue mission.

 

The 30-year-old, dropped by captain Misbah-ul-Haq on 17 off Abdur Rehman, struck seven sweetly timed fours and two audacious sixes, and anchored two partnerships that kept West Indies afloat.

 

He put on 40 for the fourth wicket with Bravo who battled 87 balls and over an hour-and-a-half before edging one that bounced and turned to Asad Shafiq at second slip, off Hafeez on the stroke of tea at 94-4.

 

After a circumspect start against the spinners, Samuels blossomed to play several expansive strokes – once lifting Abdur Rehman over long-on for the maximum and then playing a majestic drive over cover for another six off Ajmal.

 

Near the close, left-hander Rampaul then lashed two sixes in an unbeaten 15 and Kemar Roach cracked another in finishing on 10 not out, in a brisk 26-run stand for the ninth wicket that saw West Indies end with a flourish.

 

Play on Sunday will start at 9.30 am (8.30 am Jamaica Time).

 

West Indies lead the two-match Digicel Test Series 1-0 following their victory by 40 runs in the First Digicel Test at the Guyana National Stadium.

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