Azhar Ali lights up Pakistan’s day-night Test
DUBAI: Opener Azhar Ali became the first batsman to record a century in a day-night Test off a pink ball as he helped Pakistan dominate West Indies in Dubai on Thursday.
Ali’s unbeaten 146 guided Pakistan to 279-1 at close on the opening day of the first Test — just the second day-night match in Test cricket’s 140-year-old history — after Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and opted to bat on a flat Dubai stadium pitch. Asad Shafiq was the other not out batsman with 33.
Cricket saw the innovation of day-night Tests with a pink ball for the first time when Australia played New Zealand at Adelaide in November last year, attempting to reverse the trend of dwindling Test crowds.
Australia won the low-scoring affair on the third day by a narrow three-wicket margin, with Australian wicket-keeper Peter Nevill’s 66 the top individual score.
Ali bettered that and put his name in the records book with a 366-minute stay at the crease, hitting 14 boundaries, but unlike Adelaide where the attendance was 123,000 over three days, only 500-odd people passed through the gates in Dubai.
Despite the empty stands Ali and Sami Aslam, who fell for 90, started brightly with an imperious 215-run stand for the opening wicket.
Ali drove off-spinner Roston Chase to mid-off for his ninth boundary to complete his 11th Test century — his second in three matches — before pumping the air in jubiliation.
Aslam falls short
Aslam, 20, missed out on a hundred by 10 runs when he swept Chase onto his stumps. He hit nine fours in his 290-minute stay at the crease.
It was a second time unlucky for Aslam who was run out for 82 in the Birmingham Test against England two months ago.
West Indies took the second new ball as soon as it was due after 80 overs with Pakistan on 249-1 but failed to get another wicket. Chase was the lone wicket-taker with 1-63 in 21 overs.
Earlier Ali and Aslam dominated the bowling in the first two sessions as the two openers added 91 in the second session after they were 81-0 at tea.
West Indies used up both of their referrals, first against Ali off paceman Jason Holder when the batsman was on 38, and then on Aslam (69) off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo — both leg-before appeals.
West Indies’ spinners failed to create any problems for Pakistan’s openers who flourished as the day progressed.
It couldn’t have been a better start for Pakistan in a match marking their 400th Test, as they won a crucial toss and made excellent early progress.
Pakistan handed Test caps to middle-order batsman Babar Azam and all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz.
Ali was given a lifeline when Leon Johnson failed to hold onto a sharp chance at gully off Miguel Cummins on 17.
West Indian captain Holder brought on his part-time spinner Kraigg Brathwaite in the 15th over and leg-spinner Bishoo in the 21st but there were no signs of spin.
The remaining two Tests will be played in Abu Dhabi (October 21-25) and Sharjah (October 30-November 3).
Pakistan, first innings
Sami Aslam b Chase 90
Azhar Ali not out 146
Asad Shafiq not out 33
Extras: (b1, lb2, nb6, w1) 10
Total: (for 1 wkt; 90 overs) 279
To bat: Babar Azam, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan
Bowling: Gabriel 14-2-55-0 (4nb), Cummins 16-2-62-0 (1w), Holder 15-4-30-0, Brathwaite 8-2-21-0, Bishoo 16-3-45-0, Chase 21-2-63-1
West Indies: J. Holder, K. Brathwaite, D. Bravo, L. Johnson, J. Blackwood, M. Samuels, S. Dowrich, R. Chase, D. Bishoo, M. Cummins, S. Gabriel
Umpires: Richard Illingworth (ENG) and Paul Reiffel (AUS)
Tv umpire: Martin Gough (ENG)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)