Pakistan press home advantage

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The Independent Online

Pakistan continued to back the West Indies further into a corner from which there is no realistic route of escape on the third day of the second and final Test here yesterday.

In spite of captain Carl Hooper's determined 84 not out that occupied four hours, their varied bowling dismissed the West Indies for 264 midway through the day. It earned them a first innings lead of 209 and the option of enforcing the follow-on but Waqar Younis opted to bat again.

They lost Shahid Afridi, their adventurous century-maker of the first day, to Merv Dillon's third ball of the innings, but it was only a temporary break before normal service was resumed.

Taufeeq Umar, the 21-year-old left-handed opener, hit an unbeaten 64 and Younis Khan, with 61 to add to his 153 in the first innings, comfortably carried the total to 130, and an overall lead of 339, by the close without further loss. They were aided by woeful West Indies fielding that added three more chances to the six missed in the first innings and the six in the first Test that Pakistan won by 170 runs on the same ground last week.

Hooper, 40 at the start of the day when the West Indies were 164 for 4 responding to 473, could find no worthwhile support from the lower order. Before lunch, nightwatchman Dillon edged Shoaib Ahktar low to gully and the left-handed debutant, Ryan Hinds, was unlucky with an lbw verdict to one from Abdur Razzaq that pitched outside leg-stump.

Once wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs' robust 31 was ended by Saqlain soon after the interval, the tail rapidly folded, Shoaib finishing with four wickets and Saqlain three.

The West Indies have found Sharjah, Test cricket's newest venue, as unwelcoming as the others around the globe. They are now face the prospect of their 23rd defeat in their last 27 Tests abroad.

Concern over the situation on Pakistan's borders influen-ced the Pakistan Cricket Board to shift the series to the stadium in this gulf state. The move has only been geographical. The pitch, hard and bare, has been typically Pakistani, favouring their batsmen and their bowlers who deal in reverse swing and guileful spin.

They have proved a handful for a limited West Indies team, low on self-confidence and missing the batting of Brian Lara, who is back in Trinidad recovering from the fractured right elbow sustained near the end of his phenomenal tour of Sri Lanka in December.

Hooper's gamble of bowling after he won the toss was undermined by atrocious cricket, characterised by the dropped catches that allowed Pakistan to amass 344 for 3 on the opening day. Although the Windies recovered well on the second day to limit the eventual total to 472, the die had been cast. Another loss is the inevitable consequence.

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