Misbah-ul-Haq missed a Test century by one run for the second consecutive match but Azhar Ali completed three figures as Pakistan reached 329 for seven at tea on the third day of the second Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Tuesday.
Deprived of the landmark when left stranded on 99 not out in the first innings of the first Test in Jamaica, the Pakistan captain appeared destined to accomplish the feat on this occasion, only to be dismissed in a bizarre manner.
Misbah’s exit triggered a mini collapse in which three wickets fell for 13 runs just before the interval after Pakistan eclipsed the West Indies first innings total of 312.
Having survived an optimistic appeal for lbw against his West Indian counterpart Jason Holder the ball before, Misbah attempted to pull out of the way of the next delivery which lifted sharply and came off the glove for Shai Hope to gleefully hold the catch at second slip.
His typically phlegmatic, unflustered innings lasted almost five hours in which he faced 201 balls, striking two sixes and nine fours. It was also the first time he was dismissed in the series after two unbeaten innings in Kingston.
His surprise demise broke a brisk 57-run partnership with Asad Shafiq after earlier adding 98 with Ali, the opening batsman reaching a painstaking 13th Test century shortly after lunch before he was caught at the wicket off Devindra Bishoo for 105, the leg-spinner’s third success of the innings.
Ali’s marathon effort occupied seven-and-a-half hours during which he faced 278 deliveries, stroking just nine boundaries in an innings characterised by considerable discipline and patience.
Buoyed by Misbah’s departure, West Indies enjoyed further success just before tea when wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed became fast bowler Shannon Gabriel’s second wicket, edging an attempted drive to Kieran Powell at first slip.
Then off the very last ball of the session, Shafiq was ruled leg-before to Holder, giving the medium-fast bowler impressive figures of two for 23 off 23 miserly overs.
An entertaining afternoon session that produced 103 runs for the loss of four wickets was in direct opposition to the tedium of the morning, where 54 runs came off 26 overs as Ali and Misbah batted with almost exaggerated care on a pitch showing increasing signs of wear and offering disconcertingly variable bounce.