Afridi boosts Pakistan rearguard effort with explosive hundred

West Indies 345 & 371, Pakistan 144 & 274-6
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The Independent Online

Shahid Afridi blasted a typically explosive hundred, featuring some extraordinary sixes, but the West Indies remained on course for victory on the fourth day of the first Test against Pakistan yesterday.

Shahid Afridi blasted a typically explosive hundred, featuring some extraordinary sixes, but the West Indies remained on course for victory on the fourth day of the first Test against Pakistan yesterday.

Making the most of Devon Smith's simple missed catch on the long-off boundary off Chris Gayle from the day's seventh ball, when he was 35, Afridi launched his salvo that the West Indies, hindered by the absence of their fastest bowler Fidel Edwards with a strained hamstring, were powerless to stop.

When he was finally caught at mid-off from a skied drive off fast bowler Darren Powell for 122, he had clouted six sixes and nine fours from only 95 balls.

It was a timely intervention for the home team a quarter of an hour from lunch that was taken with Pakistan 274 for 6, still 299 runs away from their improbable target of 573 with all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, 41, and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, five, their last recognised batsmen.

Afridi's reputation preceded him and, as soon as he arrived at the fall of the fourth wicket for 47 the previous afternoon, West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul spread his field deep.

It made no difference. The destructive right-hander sent a bouncer from Corey Collymore soaring over the scoreboard at mid-wicket and into the neighbouring district, as big a hit at the Kensington Oval as oldtimers at the ground could remember. He later hoisted Gayle into the leg-side stands off two successive balls, making the placing of five fielders on the boundary's edge redundant.

He raised his third Test hundred off 75 balls with a massive straight hit off Powell that dropped onto the boundary rope but was signalled four by umpire David Shepherd.

Gayle claimed the first wicket of the day with a slip catch that got rid of Asim Kamal for 55 after a partnership of 115 with Afridi.

But the tall off-spinner conceded four sixes and seven fours in a spell of 11 overs for 74 before he was replaced by Reon King. King and Powell, who took over from Collymore, reduced Afridi's hectic scoring rate, a factor in Afridi's dismissal.

The West Indies, without a win in their 2-0 Test series defeat to South Africa and the intervening eight one-day games against South Africa and Pakistan, are seeking to break a sequence of four successive Test defeats at Bridgetown.

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