Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saeed Ajmal rips through West Indies

West Indies v Pakistan, 1st Test, Providence, 3rd day

Ajmal rips through West Indies

On a surface atoning for modern cricket's batting sins, a compelling Test continued to unfold on the third morning at Providence. Saeed Ajmal took centre stage to keep Pakistan in the contest, but West Indies will not mind being 162 ahead on 96 for 7 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul still at the crease.
Commentators have sniped at the pitch's uneven bounce and big, early turn but really, this is a miniscule righting of the massive wrongs of modern-day batathons of Antigua, Lahore and many other venues, where even if bowlers hurled hand grenades it's not been enough to dislodge batsmen.
Saeed Ajmal
Few batsmen have looked set and frankly it's made a battle out of a contest that could easily have drifted into obscurity. Ajmal won't much care whatever anyone says; he's sniffing a ten-wicket match haul.
To his eternal smiling credit - and doesn't he look more like (Pakistani singer) Rahat Fateh Ali Khan every day? - he has exploited the surface as best as anyone. His work began early, trapping Kemar Roach on the backfoot with a loopy off-break in the day's first full over: what Roach was doing referring it so confidently is anyone's guess.
Lendl Simmons fell soon after to a good short leg catch off Wahab Riaz and the real game began: Ajmal against Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan. Neither looked confident over seven overs, Ajmal turning it this way and that, up and down, all over. Sarwan seemed to be just beginning to figure something out when undone by one that spat up at him. Ajmal then got involved in the field, his throw from the deep completing a run-out of Brendan Nash which Chanderpaul began by selling a nifty dummy on a non-existent second run.
Carlton Baugh didn't hang around, the right idea and wonky execution to midwicket doing him in and giving Ajmal his fourth. By then runs had long become a lottery. The one shot of authority was a Sarwan cover drive off Riaz, though Baugh hit a couple of plucky shots.
Chanderpaul hung around, taking 15 balls to get off the mark, edging through slips once, but attempting to play unequivocally everything Ajmal threw at him. He got lucky, almost running himself out after smart work by Umar Akmal. It looked out on replay, but after strangely sending back Sarwan on the first day, is it fair to say Asoka de Silva is unable to umpire even with the aid of video replays?
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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