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Taufiq sparkles as Pakistan build imposing lead

BASSETERRE: Taufiq Umar completed his fifth career hundred before gifting his wicket just before lunch, leaving Pakistan 320 for four in their second innings – an overall lead of 369 – on the fourth day of the second Test against West Indies on Monday. Taufiq was run out for 135, after he and Misbahul Haq, his captain, reinforced the Pakistanis’ superiority, batting untroubled through most of the period before the interval to enhance the visitors’ chances of a series-levelling victory. Misbah carved out an unbeaten 85, his second half-century of the series, and was batting with Umar Akmal, not out on seven, at lunch.

Taufiq and Misbah indulged themselves on a cooperative Warner Park pitch, adding 129 for the fifth wicket, as their opponents employed strangely defensive tactics, and a lackadaisical approach. Left-hander Taufiq reached his milestone from 249 balls, when he turned a delivery from Ravi Rampaul to square leg for a single. He showed signs of relief, since it followed his previous Test hundred of 111 against South Africa eight years and 30 innings ago at the Gadaffi Stadium in his hometown of Lahore.

Misbah batted astutely to reach his landmark from 95 deliveries with a reverse sweep for a single off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo. Just when it appeared that they would get into the swing of things, Taufiq failed to beat a direct hit by West Indies captain Darren Sammy at the bowlers’ end, and was run out about 10 minutes before the interval. He struck 13 boundaries from 314 deliveries in close to seven hours batting, equalling his previous best against South Africa eight years ago at Cape Town.

Pakistan trail 0-1 in the two-Test series, following a 40-run defeat inside four days in the first Test, which ended last Sunday at the Guyana National Stadium, crushing their dreams of a maiden Test series victory in the Caribbean.