Babar Azam and Fawad Alam battles to lift Pakistan from a horrible start on the opening day of the second Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Friday.
Pakistan’s openers — Abid Ali and Imran Butt — were sent packing after scoring a run each within the first two overs of the innings, followed by the dismissal of Azhar Ali in the third over, leaving the team at 2-3.
Azam, the country’s captain and premier batsman, and Alam, a seasoned middle-order batsman, came next to provide a much-needed stimulus to the team that earlier crumbled to strong pace attack of the hosts.
Kemar Roach struck twice and new ball partner Jayden Seales claimed early success as well to have the tourists tottering at two for three with just four overs gone after home captain Kraigg Brathwaite repeated his decision of the first Test by putting the opposition in on winning the toss.
Pakistan’s hopes for a more solid start from their top order faded after just four deliveries when Ali fell to a good low catch by Jermaine Blackwood at third slip off Roach.
Revelling in the bowler-friendly conditions, Roach added to that early success in his next over as new batsman Azhar fell without scoring, the former captain edging a delivery through to wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva.
Seales, man of the match in the first Test when he claimed eight wickets including five in the second innings, enjoyed his share of the early spoils.
He drew the other opener, Imran Butt, into playing at another full-length delivery for da Silva to take his second straightforward catch in nine balls.
Babar and Fawad displayed admirable grit and discipline in defying West Indies’ all-pace attack. The elegant Babar countered with a handful of handsome boundaries while Fawad was again a model of unorthodox defiance with his unorthodox square-on batting stance.
With Pakistan at 160-3, Fawad Alam got retired hurt, and was replaced by Muhammad Rizwan. But to their dismay, eight runs later, the team lost its skipper Azam who scored 75 off 174 balls.
Subsequently, Rizwan and Faheem Ashraf contributed 22 runs and 23 runs, respectively, taking the team to 212-4 at the end of the first day of the second Test.
After scrambling to a thrilling one-wicket win the first Test at the same venue five days earlier, the home side made one change to that winning line-up.
Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph further bolstered the pace attack at the expense of left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
Pakistan also made just one change as experienced wrist-spinner Yasir Shah, who went wicketless in the first Test, was replaced by left-arm orthodox slow bowler Nauman Ali.
West Indies are seeking a first Test series triumph over Pakistan for 21 years.
The visitors are hoping to repeat the efforts of the 2005 and 2011 tours of the Caribbean when they lost the first encounters before rebounding to square both two-Test series.