Misbah-ul-Haq missed a Test century by one run for the second consecutive match but Azhar Ali completed three figures as Pakistan took a first innings lead of 81, totalling 393 in reply to the West Indies’ 312 on the third day of the second Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Tuesday.
Mohammad Abbas then removed Kieran Powell to a catch at the wicket in the 14 overs the home side faced in their second innings before the close of play. They will resume on the fourth morning at 40 for one, still needing 41 more runs to erase the first innings deficit with opener Kraigg Brathwaite and Shimron Hetmyer at the wicket.
Deprived of the landmark when stranded on 99 not out in the first innings of the first Test in Jamaica, the Pakistan captain appeared destined to accomplish the feat on this occasion, only to be dismissed in a bizarre manner, triggering a mini collapse in which three wickets fell for 13 runs just before tea.
Having survived an optimistic appeal for LBW against his West Indian counterpart Jason Holder the ball before, Misbah attempted to pull out of the way of the next delivery which lifted sharply and came off the glove for Shai Hope to gleefully hold the catch at second slip.
His typically phlegmatic, unflustered innings lasted almost five hours in which he faced 201 balls, striking two sixes and nine fours. It was also the first time he was dismissed in the series after two unbeaten innings in Kingston.
His surprise demise broke a brisk 57-run partnership with Asad Shafiq after earlier adding 98 with Ali, the opening batsman reaching a painstaking 13th Test century in mid-afternoon before he was caught at the wicket off Devindra Bishoo for 105, the leg-spinner’s third success of the innings.
Ali’s marathon effort occupied seven-and-a-half hours during which he faced 278 deliveries, stroking just nine boundaries in an innings characterised by considerable discipline and patience.
Buoyed by Misbah’s departure, West Indies enjoyed further success just before tea when wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed became fast bowler Shannon Gabriel’s second wicket, edging an attempted drive to Powell at first slip.
Off the very last ball of the afternoon session, Shafiq was ruled leg-before to the miserly Holder, although Pakistan’s tail wagged to the tune of another 64 runs after tea, Yasir Shah being last out to Gabriel, who led the home side’s bowling effort with four for 81 off 32 overs.
Those eventful sessions after lunch were in direct opposition to the tedium of the morning, where 54 runs came off 26 overs as Ali and Misbah batted with almost exaggerated care on a pitch showing increasing signs of wear and offering disconcertingly variable bounce.
“This pitch is very difficult to bat on and it was important that we did the hard work to get a first innings lead,” said Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur in putting his side’s very deliberate batting approach into context.
“We need our spinners to hit their lines and lengths on the fourth day because it will be extremely tough to chase any sort of decent target in the fourth innings here.”
Legendary India batsman Sunil Gavaskar believes the BCCI would be well within its rights to pull India out of the Champions Trophy in June if the impasse over the ICC’s new revenue distribution model cannot be resolved.
So far, the BCCI has missed the deadline to announce a squad for the tournament and Gavaskar says a boycott would not be unjust.
“If they go strictly by the book, when the 2014 model came into being, I think with that legal agreement, they are entirely within their rights if they decide to withdraw from the tournament,” Gavaskar told Indian news channel NDTV. “The agreement that was there in 2014 has been completely overlooked. I don’t think we should forget that.
“The thing is, if the 2014 model has been overlooked, maybe you can overlook the 2017 model also in a couple of months. That is also entirely possible because in this world of constantly changing loyalties and constant changing friends, anything can happen.”
Gavaskar brushed aside concerns that India, which was the only country to vote against the new revenue model, would be left isolated if it remained stubbornly opposed to the model.
“Australia and England (series) has been there since 1877 and is an iconic series. When it comes to other countries playing, they don’t get that kind of money. When India tour the money doubles, trebles, quadruples, I don’t exactly know by how much,” added Gavaskar.
“So, there is no way India can be isolated. That particular thing about being isolated, we should completely forget about that. They will not be isolated.”
The 67-year-old is currently working as a commentator for the IPL and added that cricket’s premier T20 tournament would not be effected by the political machinations going on at the ICC.
“There is no worry about the Indian Premier League being affected as well because the fees the overseas players get is not something they get even playing five seasons of domestic cricket. Apart from a few players at the top level, they don’t get it,” said Gavaskar.
“The IPL will still have top level players coming and playing. Those two fears a lot of people have, (but) we should not have those fears.”
However, Gavaskar, who was the first batsman to get to 10,000 Test runs, acknowledged that India is not as influential as it has been in recent times and believes the BCCI should take time to reflect on why that is.
“The only influence that has remained constant at international level has been that of England and Australia. Maybe India is not as powerful as it was maybe a couple of years back. Maybe they will have to look within themselves why that has happened, because of things that have happened, and only the BCCI is responsible for that.”
England, Australia, and India, considered the Big Three of cricket, had rolled out a new revenue model in 2014 that reflected their status as cricket’s superpowers, with the model ensuring the three nations would get the bulk of global cricket revenue. The new model is designed to be more equitable, but Gavaskar believes the reforms fall short of that goal.
“If the $590 million or whatever the BCCI was supposed to get, if that is wrong, then how is the $290 million or the other $100 million that is being offered, right?” he questioned.
“If the whole idea is equitable distribution among all cricket boards, then every board must get exactly the same amount.”
UAE captain Rohan Mustafa has urged Emirates Cricket Board to introduce domestic two-day matches after hailing his team’s “complete all-round” performance in their nine-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea in the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Set a target of 40 following Lega Siaka’s maiden first-class century which saw PNG, who resumed on 152-4, all out for 268, it was left to veteran Shaiman Anwar (32no) to finish the game in style with a boundary at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
It was the national team’s maiden win in this season’s competition after three defeats and a draw and first in the four-day format since their nine-wicket triumph over Namibia in September 2013.
The UAE have often struggled in the longer format in the previous outings but this time their players played to their potential from day one. Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Mohammed Naveed and Qadeer Ahmed all took wickets while there were maiden international tons for Mohammed Usman (103) and Saqlain Haider (102).
And Mustafa was thrilled by his team’s display, saying every single player can hold their heads high.
“I have to give credit to the guys,” said the 28-year-old batsman, who scored an unbeaten six in the final innings. “It was a all-round team performance. The centuries from Saqlain and Usman were crucial as we lost some wickets and that helped us post a competitive total. I think the bowlers bowled superbly on a flat wicket.”
The result sees them move up to seventh in the eight-team standings on 27 points with two more fixtures scheduled against Namibia and Afghanistan later this year.
While Mustafa insists they can be encouraged by their latest display, he feels the cricketing authorities must do more in organising two-day matches which is not played in the domestic circuit.
“Just because we won this game, doesn’t mean we will continue winning all the games,” he said. “We should get support and get the opportunity to play two-day games in the domestic competitions.
“If you see the likes of Afghanistan, Scotland and Ireland they all play the longer format very good. Why they improve is because they get the opportunity to play the longer format.
“We don’t play that format so that’s the reason on why we are so far behind. We need support and let’s hope for the best. And hopefully there will be a chance for two-game games to be introduced in giving us the opportunity of playing strongly in more four-day games.”