A brace of wickets from seamers Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales gave West Indies the edge but captain Babar Azam’s 17th Test half-century, coupled with rain, aided Pakistan’s resistance on the third day of the opening Test in Jamaica on Saturday.
Trailing by 36 runs on first innings after West Indies were dismissed for 253 within the first 16 deliveries of the day, Pakistan recovered from a precarious position of 65 for four to reach the close at Sabina Park on 160 for five.
Babar was unbeaten on an attritional 54 while Abid Ali (34), wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan (30) and Azhar Ali (23) all got starts but failed to carry on.
A near 2-½ hour rain stoppage also sucked valuable time out of the final session, helping Pakistan to slow the game down and enter Sunday’s penultimate day with a lead of 124 runs.
Veteran Roach spearheaded the attack, claiming two for 15 from 15 high-quality overs while the 19-year-old Seales continued to reiterate his promise with two for 50 – both wickets coming in one over just after lunch to rock the Pakistan innings.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed bowling on this surface so far. I think it’s played pretty well and it’s helped the bowlers once you bowl in the right areas,” said Seales, who picked up three wickets in the first innings.
“For me, it’s just to bowl good line and length and force the batsman to make a mistake, and create as much pressure as possible.”
He added: “We have to remain as patient as possible [on the fourth day], doing the things we did well earlier in the day, get the wickets and then go in there and bat, and win the game.”
Resuming the morning on 251 for eight, West Indies added just two runs before 21-year-old left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi knocked over both overnight batsmen Jomel Warrican (1) and Joshua Da Silva (21) to end with four for 59.
However, Roach gave West Indies the ideal riposte when he brought one back to hit Imran Butt in front without scoring, in the third over with a single run on the board – the decision coming courtesy of DRS.
Opener Abid then struck five fours and a six off 66 deliveries and Azhar, three fours in a 60-ball knock, as they combined to add 55 for the second wicket and steady the innings.
Dropped by Holder at second slip off Roach on ten, Azhar looked set to take Pakistan safely to lunch when Roach hit his leg stump in the final over before the interval.
On 56 for two at lunch, Pakistan slumped even further thanks to a double strike from Seales in the fifth over following the resumption.
First, the Trinidadian had Abid caught at second slip by Holder, the right-hander adding only three to his lunch-time 31, before removing new batsman Fawad Alam without scoring three balls later, caught at the wicket defending.
Any hopes of running through the Pakistan middle order were then scuppered, however, as Babar anchored a 56-run, fifth wicket stand with Rizwan, followed by an unbroken 39-run partnership with Faheem Ashraf (12 not out) to prop up the innings
The right-handed Babar has so far spent 139 balls at the crease and struck seven fours while Rizwan punched four fours and a six off 63 deliveries in 1-½ hours.
When rain arrived to force an early tea, 20 minutes before the scheduled interval, Pakistan were 117 for four, and the inclement weather resulted in an extended break.
When play resumed late in the day, Holder claimed Rizwan to a catch at the wicket in the very first over before Faheem took advantage of a let off by Jermaine Blackwood at third slip on four, to lend precious support to his skipper.