Mohammad Abbas had a dream debut as Pakistan reduced the West Indies to 71 for four at lunch on the opening day of the first Test of the three-match series at Sabina Park in Jamaica on Friday.
Sharing the new ball with Mohammad Amir after their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, chose to bat first on winning the toss, Abbas struck with his second delivery in Test cricket, having Kraigg Brathwaite caught at second slip by Younis Khan without scoring.
It represented important early success for the tourists as the opener had made history in their last Test match meeting with unbeaten scores of 142 and 60 that earned the Caribbean side a five-wicket win in Sharjah last November at the end of an otherwise miserable tour of the United Arab Emirates.
With the West Indies fielding two debutants in the middle-order in the pair of Guyanese left-handers Shimron Hetmyer and Vishaul Singh, Pakistan pressed the advantage even further with Amir claiming his first wickets for three Test matches.
Maintaining a nagging accuracy, the left-arm fast bowler breached the defences of both Hetmyer and Shai Hope, scattering the stumps with deliveries that jagged in sharply off a pitch offering early assistance to the pacers in heavily overcast conditions.
Pakistan’s third seamer in their bowling armoury, Wahab Riaz, then removed Singh via a good diving catch by Azhar Ali at backward square-leg to have the home side tottering at 53 for four.
Brathwaite’s opening partner Kieran Powell, playing his first Test match for almost three years, survived a probing examination from the bowlers and resumes in the afternoon session on 33 in partnership with Roston Chase.
West Indies opted to omit Jermaine Blackwood from their final eleven to accommodate the debutants in the batting line-up, meaning there was no Jamaican in the home side for a Test match at Sabina Park for the first time since 1997 when, incidentally, the opponents were also Pakistan.
Notwithstanding his impressive entry to senior international cricket during the limited-over leg of the tour, the visitors resisted the temptation to include the uncapped Shadab Khan in their team as a second spinner in support of Yasir Shah, choosing instead to introduce 27-year-old Abbas to Test cricket.
This is the 50th Test between the two nations and also the 50th Test match to be played at Sabina Park since the very first at the venue in 1930.
Published in Sports
Story first published: 21st April 2017