Gul's swift reality check for Lara and West Indies

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The Independent Online

Pakistan made light of their recent travails and were well on top after day one of the First Test here after bowling out West Indies for 206 and then reaching 39 for 1 before bad light stopped play.

The hosts had lost the wicket of Imran Farhat, who was trapped lbw by Jerome Taylor for nine, but Mohammad Hafeez (11) and Younis Khan (10) were unbeaten at stumps with Pakistan having reduced the arrears to 167.

Pakistan paceman Umar Gul stepped up in the absence of the banned Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif and was the wrecker in chief. After Shahid Nazir and Danish Kaneria had made inroads into the top order to leave the West Indies 122 for 6 at lunch, Gul dominated the afternoon. He took the last four wickets, ending with figures of 5 for 65.

Gul's first wicket in his afternoon burst was the crucial one of Brian Lara, who had led the resistance with seven fours in his 61 before edging to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal. Taylor was then trapped lbw for eight before Dave Mohammed (35) and Fidel Edwards fell to edges.

Lara's side were hoping to continue the good form that had taken them to the final of the Champions Trophy but Pakistan ruthlessly exposed their shortcomings in the five-day game.

Lara won the toss at the Gaddafi Stadium, where Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq returned after his suspension for his role in the Darrell Hair affair. Champions Trophy player of the tournament Chris Gayle carried on his good form, racing to 34 in just 28 balls with six fours.

Fellow opener Daren Ganga was dismissed - having contributed only three from an opening stand of 41 - slashing a ball from Gul to Younis Khan at second slip. Gayle went without further addition after being trapped lbw by Nazir and the same bowler claimed the third wicket with Younis taking another catch to account for Ramnaresh Sarwan for three. Nazir pinned Shivnarine Chanderpaul leg before for five before Dwayne Bravo and Lara took the score from 52 on to 96.

Kaneria made the breakthrough in dismissing Bravo for 32, and then Denesh Ramdin mistimed a sweep to give the leg spinner his second wicket on the stroke of lunch.