Azam, Alam score half-tons, help Pakistan recover after poor start vs West Indies

8/21/2021
 Skipper Babar Azam and Fawad Alam scored half centuries as Pakistan staged a remarkable recovery on the opening day of the second Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Saturday (IST), finishing the day on 212/4 after reeling at 2/3 in the early stages.

Azam (75) and left-hander Alam (76) prevented a disastrous collapse, putting on 158 and blunting the home barrage before the latter retired hurt due to injury.

Winning the toss and electing to field, Kraigg Brathwaite's decision seemed a smart one, with Kemar Roach dismissing Abid Ali in the first over for one.

The slip cordon was busy in the early overs, as Roach and new-ball partner Jayden Seales found their rhythm. Roach found Azhar Ali's outside edge as he was caught by Joshua da Silva for a duck, while Seales joined in the celebrations after a successful review to dismiss Imran Butt.

Azam and Alam calmed the proceedings, taking Pakistan to 62/3 when lunch was called after 25 overs. Seeing off the barrage from Roach and Seales, the pair played out four maidens against Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder, who came on in spurts of four and six overs respectively.

Seeing off the shine in the first session gave Pakistan freedom after lunch, with the two seasoned players reaching half centuries. Azam brought up his 18th Test fifty with a back-foot drive for four, while Alam also brought up his half-century with a boundary, Pulling Alzarri Joseph to the fence.

The hot and humid Jamaican conditions played a part in proceedings, with Jahmar Hamilton taking the keeping gloves from Joshua da Silva, who was struggling from cramps. Pakistan too felt the effects of the weather, struggling to bat.

Alam retired hurt on 76, and Azam fell soon after for 75, edging to Jason Holder, taking a low catch at second slip.

The wicket put the brakes on Pakistan's fightback, though Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Rizwan prevented a collapse, pushing the score past 200 before the light was called 74 overs into the day.

Rizwan (22 not out) and Ashraf (23 not out) will resume on Day 2, with Alam likely to return at the fall of day two's first wicket.

Brief scores: Pakistan 1st innings 212 for 4 in 74 overs (B Azam 75, F Alam 76 retd hurt; Kemar Roach 3/49).

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