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Windies drop the ball


Ezra Stuart in St Kitts

Windies drop the ball

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CATCHES STILL win cricket matches but the West Indies cricketers appeared not to remember this old adage yesterday.
And they may now have to pay the price for a spate of missed opportunities as their opponents hunt a series-equalling victory.
The chief beneficiary of the blunders was opener Taufeeq Umar, who remained unbeaten on a fortuitous 97 as Pakistan took firm control of the second Digicel Test at Warner Park during the third day’s play.
Three dropped catches – two in consecutive overs from fast bowler Kemar Roach – proved costly as Taufeeq anchored Pakistan’s second innings to 202 for three at the close, an overall lead of 251 runs with seven wickets in hand.
The 29-year-old Lahore-born left-hander moved to within three runs of a fifth Test century in his 31st Test with ten fours, most of them from drives through mid-off, in a five-hour knock in which he faced 231 balls.
He was dropped on one, 13 and 94 and also escaped being run out just before the close.
His opening partner Mohammed Hafeez also rode his luck before he was out for 32 in a first-wicket stand of 82. 
The West Indies had needed to get some early wickets to get back into the game after conceding a first innings lead of 49 when they were dismissed for 223 in the pre-lunch session after resuming from an overnight 184 for eight in response to Pakistan’s first innings total of 272.
But from the fourth delivery by pacer Kemar Roach, lady luck didn’t smile on them.
Hafeez was caught low down in front of first slip by a diving wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh, but the wicket was negated by umpire Billy Bowden’s no-ball call.
Then the two Darrens – Bravo and Sammy – both spilled slip catches offered by Taufeeq in consecutive overs from the luckless Roach, who bowled impressively throughout with spells of 5-2-7-0 and 6-4-4-1 to follow his mixed opening burst of 4-0-31-0.
Bravo’s chance was a regulation waist-high catch at first slip while Sammy’s was low to his left at second slip.
When Hafeez was 14, Sammy also failed to get his fingers under another low offering off Ravi Rampaul’s bowling as Pakistan went to lunch on 55 without loss. 
On resumption, Sammy, who had left the field just before the interval, leaving vice-captain Brendan Nash to deputise for him, returned to the field and got the breakthrough with an off-cutter which Hafeez edged onto his leg stump.
Taufeeq and Azhar Ali consolidated Pakistan’s position as they added 76 for the second wicket. Azhar also benefited on 26 when he edged leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo between Lendl Simmons and Marlon Samuels in the slips as both fielders looked at each other with the chance going abegging.        
The free-scoring Azhar, who survived a confident leg before wicket appeal on 33 off part-time left-arm spinner Nash, which was unsuccessfully reviewed, dominated the partnership for his second half-century of the match.
He struck six fours off 90 balls in a knock of 53 before he was well caught by Sammy at first slip, cutting at a leg break from Bishoo.
Roach finally got some success when Baugh made an acrobatic one-handed grab to get rid of Asad Shafiq for four.
Pakistan’s captain Misbah-ul-Haq joined Taufeeq, who slowed down appreciably after reaching 50 off 82 balls.
Misbah wasted little time in hoisting Bishop over long-on for a huge six, while Taufeeq seemed in a rush to complete his century before the close.
He hit Rampaul for two fours and cut another delivery for two more to move into the 90s.
When Misbah was on 94, Simmons made a spectacular attempt at mid-off, hurling himself to his left to haul in a firm drive, but the ball spilled from his grasp as he hit the turf.
Simmons had another opportunity to run out Taufeeq when he attempted a suicidal single after driving the ball firmly to the fielder in the same position but his throw missed the stumps.
And off the last ball of the day, he nibbled at a teasing delivery from Sammy but Bowden turned down the West Indies’ confident appeal which wasn’t referred for a review.
Earlier, Rampaul and Roach extended their ninth-wicket stand to 60 runs, the best of the innings, before off-spinners Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez took a wicket each to give Pakistan a handy lead.
 

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