Umar Gul notched three big wickets in space of ten deliveries to help Pakistan take command on the second day of the third and final Test against the West Indies in spite of a resolute, unbeaten half-century by Daren Ganga here at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
Managing ample reverse swing on a low and slow track, the Peshawar medium pacer removed danger man Brian Lara and comeback middle-order batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan with two top-class balls in the same over after getting rid of Chris Gayle as Pakistan restricted the West Indies to 191-6 at stumps, still 113 runs behind the hosts’ first innings total of 304.
Danish Kaneria then took the next three wickets through an accurate, single-minded display of spin bowling to keep Pakistan, one up in the series, in the hunt for a 2-0 triumph.
Opener Daren Ganga, however, made sure that it would be no cakewalk for Pakistan as he batted for over five hours to keep the tourists’ hopes of squaring the series alive. The 27-year-old from Trinidad, who scored 82 in Multan, faced 214 balls and hit nine fours in his patient knock of 77 — his ninth Test fifty. He and wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin (0) were the two unbeaten batsmen at the close of play.
More than Ganga, the day belonged to Umar, who first hit an entertaining 26 to take Pakistan past 300 in their first innings and then produced enough reverse swing later in the day to make the going tough for the West Indies willow holders.
Only Ganga could manage the difficult batting conditions really well as he took his time to set in and anchored the West Indian innings in a bid to take it somewhere near the Pakistan total. He added 51 with fellow opener Chris Gayle (40) and 63 with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (36) but never really got any solid support from the other end.
After taking Pakistan’s last three wickets for 47 runs in the first hour of the day, the tourists made a good start with Gayle and Ganga taking them to 42-0 in ten overs before lunch.
Gayle looked in fine form as he raced to 31 from 39 balls with four boundaries. The openers resumed cautiously after the lunch interval, treating Kaneria with respect and making use of the gentle medium pace of Abdul Razzaq to fetch runs.
But all of that changed soon after Inzamam-ul-Haq handed the ball to Umar. The 24-year-old, playing just his 14th Test, began the demolition work with his second ball after lunch by removing Gayle, who miscued a pull shot and Razzaq almost spilt an easy catch at mid on before grabbing it on second attempt.
Next to go was Lara as the West Indian captain was treated with the ball of a day, one that got late movement on the way to shattering the stumps. Lara went for a second-ball duck after having hit a classic 216 in his previous Test innings in Multan. He remains 94 runs away from becoming the first man to score 12000 Test runs.
In his next over, Umar deceived Sarwan with a perfect in-swinging yorker to reduce the West Indies to 51-3 from 51-0.
It was an inspired spell from the youngster, currently spearheading the Pakistani attack following the doping bans on the pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.
Kaneria, meanwhile, did what he does best, bowling accurately and waiting for the batsmen to make mistakes.
He was helped by two superb catches by Imran Farhat close to the wicket to get rid of Chanderpaul and Runako Morton (21).
Chanderpaul, batting fluently, was caught brilliantly by Imran to become Kaneria’s first wicket of the day.
Morton’s dismissal, that came 39 runs later, ignited some controversy as his shot off Kaneria seemed to hit Imran’s helmet before the fielder caught the ball. According to the rule, if the ball hits a fielder’s helmet before being caught, it is not out. Third umpire Riazuddin was involved and he took five minutes to investigate through TV replays but was unable to reach a conclusion, allowing the field umpires to go ahead with their initial call.
Bravo struggled against Umar and Kaneria before falling to the spinner, bottom edging one straight into the gloves of Kamran Akmal.
Ramdin joined Ganga and managed to survive the final 15 minutes of the day. With Kaneria midway into his 29th over, light was offered to the batsmen and they took it without thinking twice.
Still 113 runs down, the West Indies have a mountain to climb but it could have been worse for them had Inzamam-ul-Haq done a better job as Pakistan captain. He gave the unimpressive Razzaq 12 overs during the day, mostly in the crucial second session when Umar was playing havoc with the ball. Umar got just four overs in that session.
Inzamam’s field placing was also quite unimaginative and at times allowed the West Indians to score some easy runs.
With his batting getting more awful with every match, Inzamam will have to at least do better as a captain to justify his place in this team.
The hosts also missed a fourth specialist bowler as Razzaq once again failed to pose much threat on a wicket which was described by Gayle as the worst pitch he has ever seen. Considering that the words came from a batsman, one can say that things must have been more conducive for the bowlers.
Umar proved that through figures of 3-49 from 16 overs. He now has 13 wickets in the series so far. Kaneria took 3-48 as medium pacer Shahid Nazir (0-38) went unrewarded through the course of the day.
Earlier, Pakistan’s first innings folded inside the opening hour of the day but the tail managed to get the hosts past the 300-run mark. Resuming at 257-7, Pakistan lost their eighth wicket off just the seventh ball of the day when Shahid Nazir was bowled by Powell.
Kamran Akmal added 13 more runs to his overnight 18 before becoming Corey Collymore’s third victim on the first delivery with the second new ball that ripped through his defences to shatter the stumps. Kamran’s 31 came off 57 balls and included four hits to the fence. Pakistan were 272-9 and reaching 300 seemed next to impossible.
But Umar had other ideas as he showed his batting prowess in a 44-ball 26 punctuated with five fours. With the help of Kaneria (7 not out), Umar frustrated the West Indian bowlers as the pair put on 32 runs for the last wicket.
Powell finally uprooted his stumps to finish with 2-83. Collymore was the pick of the West Indian bowling attack with 3-57 from 21 overs. Bravo took 2-33.
Pakistan won toss
Pakistan 1st inns (overnight 257-7)
Mohammad Hafeez b Collymore 18
Imran Farhat c Ramdin b Bravo 47
Younis Khan run out (Powell) 20
Mohammad Yousuf lbw b Collymore 102
*Inzamam-ul-Haq c Chanderpaul b Ganga 18
Shoaib Malik lbw b Taylor 18
Abdul Razzaq c Ramdin b Bravo 7
†Kamran Akmal b Collymore 31
Shahid Nazir b Powell 0
Umar Gul b Powell 26
Danish Kaneria not out 7
Extras (b1, lb7, nb2) 10
Total (all out, 100.5 overs) 304
Fall: 1-26, 2-72, 3-112, 4-178, 5-222, 6-239, 7-248, 8-265, 9-272
Bowling: Taylor 22-3-76-1; Collymore 21-6-57-3 (1nb); Gayle 16-3-27-0; Powell 23.5-5-83-2 (1nb); Bravo 14-6-33-2; Ganga 4-0-20-1
West Indies 1st inns
C H Gayle c Razzaq b Umar 40
D Ganga not out 77
*B C Lara b Umar 0
R R Sarwan b Umar 0
S Chanderpaul c Imran b Kaneria 36
R S Morton c Imran b Kaneria 21
D J Bravo c Kamran b Kaneria 8
†D Ramdin not out 0
Extras (b5, nb4) 9
Total (6 wkts, 72.4 overs) 191
To bat: J E Taylor, D B Powell, C D Collymore
Fall: 1-51, 2-51, 3-51, 4-114, 5-153, 6-190
Bowling: Umar Gul 16-4-49-3 (3nb); Shahid Nazir 12-2-38-0; Danish Kaneria 28.4-11-48-3; Abdul Razzaq 12-3-41-0 (1nb); Mohammad Hafeez 4-1-10-0
Series: Pakistan leads the 3-Test series 1-0
Umpires: M R Benson (England) and D J Harper (Australia). TV umpire: Riazuddin. Match referee: R S Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Previous matches: November 11-14 1st Test Lahore, Pakistan won by 9 wickets. November 19-23 2nd Test Multan, match drawn
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