Babar Azam playing skipper innings to keep test hopes alive

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Babar Azam’s unbeaten half-century kept his team’s hopes alive of setting a competitive target for the West Indies in the final innings of the contest with Pakistan reaching 160 for five in their second innings at the close of the rain-affected third day of the first Test at Sabina Park on Saturday.

Having trailed on the first innings by 36 runs, the tourists will start day four ahead by 124 with Azam on 54 and Faheem Ashraf on 12, the pair having put on 39 so far for the sixth wicket.

Pakistan’s captain almost exactly replicated the caution and determination of his opposite number Kraigg Brathwaite of a day earlier.

He limited his usually fluent strokeplay to the barest minimum in nearly four hours at the crease in which he faced 139 balls and hit seven fours.

Ashraf was equally watchful but the West Indies have only themselves to blame for him still being at the crease as Jermaine Blackwood floored a straightforward chance at third slip off the medium-pace of Kyle Mayers shortly after the left-hander arrived at the crease.

He had come to the middle following the demise of Mohammad Rizwan at 121 for five at the start of an extended final session after a heavy mid-afternoon shower interrupted play.

Azam and Rizwan had put on 56 for the fifth wicket but when the wicketkeeper-batsman fell to Jason Holder for 30, Pakistan were in danger of capitulating before the close of play.