Pakistan v West Indies, Day 1, Sharjah
Pakistan 255/8: Sami Aslam 74, Misbah-ul-Haq 53
West Indies: Devendra Bishoo 4/74, Shannon Gabriel 3/58
SHARJAH // After eight successive losses and 16 days of toil on the field, West Indies' spirits were finally revived on Day 1 of the final Test – partly thanks to a pep talk by their 12th man.
Given the flogging they have had at the hands of Pakistan over the past five weeks, it is little wonder their players give the impression of wanting to be anywhere else but on a cricket field in the UAE.
When the toss again fell in Misbah-ul-Haq’s favour ahead of play at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, almost collapsed in mock horror. Another few days of hard labour on a batsman’s paradise was bound to ensue, his body language suggested.
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At first, though, they enjoyed unexpected success. Within the first four balls of the Test, Shannon Gabriel had sent back both Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq for ducks.
It was telling about the fragile state of mind of the Caribbean side that it did not take long for their shoulders to droop again once Sami Aslam and Younis Khan had set about repairing the innings.
It took one of their substitutes to notice it and remedy the situation. It must feel a long while to Carlos Brathwaite since he led West Indies in international cricket for the first time, in the first Twenty20 against Pakistan in Dubai on September 23.
He had a tough initiation to leadership on the field then, and has been the team’s drinks waiter for much of the time since. It says much about the character of the burly allrounder, though, that he has still managed to influence the team for the better.
According to Devendra Bishoo, the legspinner, intervention by Brathwaite prompted his own return of four wickets, which sparked a Pakistan collapse in the evening session.
“When I started my spell, I went for a few runs, and Carlos Brathwaite told me my body language was down,” Bishoo said.
“He came up and told me I need to pick myself up, and that I’ve been doing well in international cricket, and got eight wickets in the first game. He said, ‘I want to see some confidence in you.’ I started to feel more lively after that.”
West Indies’ day had neat book ends. After having Pakistan one for two at the start, they had reduced them from 230 for four to 255 for eight by the close.
“It is the first day of the game and I think we have put ourselves in a very good position,” Bishoo said. “We need to capitalise from here on. The job isn’t finished yet, but it has been a good start for us.”
Four Pakistan batsmen – Aslam, Younis, Misbah and Sarfraz Ahmed – went past 50, but none went further than Aslam’s 74.
Their failure to convert their starts left Pakistan precariously placed at stumps, while Aslam has now made four half-centuries in his Test career so far, without posting three figures.
“This is my seventh Test and if you recall in England once I got run out, once I was unlucky, so I don’t think there is any nervousness,” said Aslam, who was caught at slip after attempting a reverse-sweep off Bishoo.
“It is about me playing a bad shot. I obviously think about scoring a hundred after 50, but there is no pressure. I just think about scoring big runs.
“I think batsmen make mistakes and improve with every passing day, so I am on it and trying to minimise my mistakes.”
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