Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Pakistan tightens grip with Hafeez's dogged half-century

AFP , KARACHI

West Indies cricketer Denesh Ramdin waves his bat after scoring a half-century as Pakistani skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq walks by during the third day of the third and final Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies at the National Stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, yesterday. Wicket-keeper Ramdin hit a gritty half-century to help the West Indies reduce Pakistan's lead on the third day.

PHOTO: AFP

Opener Mohammad Hafeez's painstaking half-century helped Pakistan tighten their grip on the third Test and the three-match series against the West Indies in Karachi yesterday.

Pakistan built up a solid 174-run lead with eight wickets in hand at stumps on the third day at the National Stadium, with Hafeez on 57 not out and Mohammad Yousuf unbeaten on one.

The home team reached 130-2 when bad light stopped play 15 overs before schedule.

The home batsmen were checked by some tight West Indies bowling after the tourists fought hard to score 260 runs in their first innings, conceding a 44-run lead.

Pakistan lead the series 1-0 after their nine-wicket win in the first Test in Lahore. The second Test ended in a draw at Multan.

Pakistan lost opener Imran Farhat (20) after a slow start to their second innings. Farhat played a rash shot outside the off-stump off paceman Daren Powell and was caught by wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin.

The West Indies bowled to a tight line and length to keep Pakistan in check as they managed just 61 in the two-hour second session.

But Hafeez and vice-captain Younis Khan continued to stretch the home team's lead in the last session. Hafeez crawled to his fourth Test half-century in 213 minutes, hitting five boundaries.

He added 79 runs for the second wicket with Younis.

Hafeez said that strokeplay was difficult on the slow-paced wicket.

"We had to see off the new ball and that was why we were cautious initially. Moreover it was tough to play strokes on this pitch. It has eased up slightly but it's still not good," said Hafeez.

The West Indies' fielders -- who dropped seven catches in the first two Tests -- were once again fumbling as Dwayne Bravo dropped Younis off his own bowling when he was on 19.

Younis, celebrating his 29th birthday, capitalised on the chance, hitting Chris Gayle for the first six of the match before the off-spinner trapped him in front of the wicket with a faster one for 38.

Earlier, Ramdin hit a gritty 50 to keep alive his team's chances of levelling the series. He added 44 runs for the last wicket with Corey Collymore (8 not out) to help West Indies recover from 216-9 to 260 all out.

Ramdin was the last man out after he failed to make the crease at the non-striker's end while attempting a second run. He hit seven boundaries.

Despite dismissing the resolute West Indian opener Daren Ganga (81) early in the day, Pakistan wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal dropped three chances to let the tourists' tail add 69 runs after they resumed at 191-6.

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