Pakistan recovered from losing three early wickets to reach 80 for three at the close on a remarkable third day of the first Test against the West Indies on Saturday, leaving them 139 runs short of victory.
A fascinating encounter on a throwback surface, that in contrast to so many modern Test wickets offers something for the bowlers and truly tests the batsmen, remains in the balance, although Pakistan will feel they have the upper hand.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal again dominated, taking six wickets, making it 11 in the game, as the West Indies were bowled out for 152 in their second innings.
That total would have been even worse had it not been for a fine 10th-wicket partnership between last man Devendra Bishoo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
The Guyanese pair put on 48 for the final wicket — the best partnership in the West Indies innings, with last man Bishoo making 24 and Chanderpaul unbeaten on 36.
It gave Darren Sammy’s side a target to bowl at despite Pakistan having more than two days to reach the modest target.
A surface that had offered plenty for all kinds of bowlers, especially the spinners, was certain to produce some difficulties though for the tourists.
Ravi Rampaul gave West Indies the perfect start when he trapped Taufeeq Umar leg before wicket without him scoring and then two balls later removed Azhar Ali, caught behind for a duck.
Pakistan were reeling at three down for just two runs after Kemar Roach picked up the prize wicket of Mohammad Hafeez, LBW after a review of a ball that cut back sharply.
With the home support going wild with delight, the prospect of a swift end to the contest appeared on the horizon, but Asad Shafiq (40 not out) and Misbah-ul-Haq (34) knuckled down and produced the biggest partnership of this low scoring Test — putting on 78 before the close.
It was a timely contribution to calm the nerves in the Pakistan camp overnight, but, while time is no issue, 139 runs with seven wickets remaining will be a testing task.
The last-wicket stand keeps the West Indies’ hopes alive, but, despite the tricky track, Pakistan will fancy their chances of taking a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.