Helped by fine half-centuries from Younis Khan and Babar Azam, Pakistan made a formidable start to their first innings against West Indies at Sabina Park on day 3. Despite losing Azhar Ali cheaply, Azam and Younis, who crossed the 10,000 run landmark in the process, pulled them back into the game before Shannon Gabriel struck twice to remove both batsmen. Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq thereafter led Pakistan to 201/4 at stumps.
Earlier, Mohammad Amir completed a six-wicket haul to bowl out West Indies for 286. Despite skipper, Jason Holder smashing another one of his entertaining half-centuries on Day 2, Amir chipped away at the other end.
West Indies will hope to tackle Misbah and Shafiq with a new ball 10 overs into day 4. Having lost a near full day yesterday, a result in this Test would need some exceptional performances from one of these two teams.
Brief Scores: West Indies 286/10; Pakistan 201/4 (Azam 72, Younis 58, Gabriel 2/37)
Here are the major talking points from day 3 at Sabina Park, Kingston.
#5 Mohammad Amir of old back?
Mohammad Amir completed a six-wicket haul on day 3 and looked like the kind of bowler he was before he walked away from the game. The ripe banana swing was back as was his pace throttling near the 145 mark consistently.
He had the Windies top order hopping and confused with his movement through the air and off the seam. Amir was swinging it both ways and some of his dismissals were completely planned out in the mind before executed to perfection.
Amir's form is especially good news for the Pakistan ODI side set to play the Champions Trophy a month and a half later in England. Conditions will suit his style of bowling and it could make Pakistan a good shout for the ‘dark horse’ tag.
#4 Babar Azam shows his class
Hailed as the future of Pakistan's middle-order, Babar Azam has had a tough time coping with expectations in the past few months. A proper batsman with a wide array of shots, Azam had made his mark in ODIs but struggled to consistently get a place in the Test eleven.
Starting in his favoured No. 3 position at Sabina Park, Azam played his shots with flair and panache. He was deft when it was needed, like when he dabbed Gabriel through the cordon to the third man fence, or bullish, hitting Bishoo over mid-wicket.
With Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq set to retire after this Test series, Pakistan are in serious danger of running out of options in the middle-order. But in Babar Azam they have a wonderful young talent who could become a mainstay at No. 3 for them.
#3 West Indies' search ends for a balanced attack?
West Indies had long been in the search for a perfectly balanced Test attack and finally seem to have got one. Alzarri Joseph generating good bounce and pace seems like a viable opening bowler alongside Jason Holder, who can swing the ball and also bowl the odd disconcerting bouncer.
In Shannon Gabriel they have a hard, hit the deck, zippy bowler making batsmen play the ball a lot earlier than they would like to. Devendra Bishoo offers good back-up with his leg spinners that have been pretty tidy so far.
Bishoo isn't all alone in the spin department. Roston Chase offers a decent variation with his off-spin and Kraigg Brathwaite can also turn his arm over. One of Joseph or Gabriel will be tasked with bowling at sheer pace while the other can aid Holder in holding an end up. West Indies finally seem to have unearthed a good pace attack.
#2 Shannon Gabriel's burst
Pakistan were going firm at 185/2 when Shannon Gabriel turned up to dismiss Younis Khan. The veteran Pakistani batsman looked to drive a delivery outside off-stump but did not bother to keep it down as cover gobbled up an easy catch.
Gabriel had bowled with good pace until then but this delivery did not have that much zip behind it, possibly the factor that fooled Younis to play a shot earlier. It was also the West Indian fast bowler's 50th Test wicket.
Gabriel wasn't done though and in the next over he had Baba Azam chopping onto his stumps off a shortish delivery bowled at pace. Azam was late to the ball and only managed to inside edge the ball to the stumps. Gabriel had taken out both settled batsmen and brought back West Indies into the game.
#1 Younis Khan completes landmark of 10,000 runs
Having announced his decision to retire after this Test series, Younis Khan went on to do what he does best - score runs. The classy middle-order batsman completed his half-century and in the process became the first Pakistan batsman to cross 10,000 runs.
Younis became the oldest batsman to register 10,000 runs at 39 years and 145 days. Averaging a touch above 53, Younis became the sixth fastest in terms of innings to reach the landmark.
In the context of the game, Pakistan would have wanted Younis to carry on to a 35th Test hundred but the batsman was dismissed on 58 by Gabriel. To his credit, not once did he look unsettled or uncomfortable at the crease until his dismissal.