West Indies top order exposed again by Pakistan

Mohammad Amir was the first to strike for Pakistan. — AFP

BRIDGETOWN: West Indies’ vulnerable top-order batting was again exploited by Pakistan as the home team reached 72 for three at lunch after choosing to bat first on the opening day of the second Test at Kensington Oval on Sunday.

Despite a surface that offered very little assistance to the faster bowlers, the Caribbean team lost their first three wickets after just over an hour before the pair of opening batsman Kieran Powell and Roston Chase navigated their way to the interval without any further casualties.

Powell, top scorer with 49 amid the West Indies’ second innings capitulation in the first Test in Kingston, will resume in the afternoon session on 29 with Chase on 23, their partnership worth 35 runs in conditions which appeared increasingly easy for batting as the morning wore on.

Mohammad Amir was the first to strike for Pakistan against a batting line-up that was surprisingly unchanged from the seven-wicket defeat in Jamaica, the selectors resisting calls for to bring in middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood.

Kraigg Brathwaite enjoyed a moment of good fortune when he was dropped at short extra-cover off Amir.

However the lapse did not prove costly for the visitors as Amir took the outside edge of the opener’s bat in the same over to give a straightforward catch to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Shimron Hetmyer, one of two batting debutants from a week earlier, faced just three deliveries before driving loosely at the other opening bowler, Mohammad Abbas, for Azhar Ali to take a sharp catch head-high at second slip.

Shai Hope’s struggle for runs continued when he was caught at the wicket off Yasir Shah, the leg-spinner extracting sharp turn off the first-day pitch and appearing to justify Pakistan’s decision to give a debut to Shadab Khan as a second wrist-spinner in their bowling armoury at the expense of their fastest bowler, Wahab Riaz.

Shadab, the man of the series in the four-match T20 contest who also enjoyed success in the three one-day internationals preceding the Tests, bowled four overs before the interval without appearing particularly threatening.

However with Shah seeming to be troubled by a back complaint in the final over of the morning, the newcomer can expect a heavy workload for the rest of the day should the premier slow bowler in the side be seriously hampered.