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Azhar, Azam give Pakistan steady start

West Indies had no answer for Azhar Ali on day one of the third Test in Dominica, though the removal of Babar Azam may give them hope.

AzharAli - cropped
Pakistan opener Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali and Babar Azam scored half-centuries as Pakistan mounted a solid start on a rain-hit day against West Indies in Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan's final Test.

Opener Azhar notched an unbeaten 85 despite two separate rain delays before the second session, with Azam's 55 contributing to a 120-run stand for the second wicket that sets the tourists up nicely in the series-deciding third Test.

Iconic batsman Younis was given a guard of honour before opening what should be his penultimate Test innings, but he was happy to play a backing role and let Azhar lead the way.

He made 10 off 44 balls as Pakistan reached 169-2 when bad light led to stumps being called, though they may hope to pick up the pace on Thursday with Azhar closing in on a century.

It could have been very different for the opener, though.

With plenty of bounce in the wicket early, Jason Holder challenged an on-field not-out decision believing he trapped Azhar leg before, but his review was unsuccessful.

Pakistan found the going tough in the early exchanges and their concerns were heightened when a length switch from Roston Chase (1-27) drew Shan Masood (9) into an outside edge that Holder took at second slip.

Azhar launched Chase over mid-on for the first six of the match and he did so again in the off-spinner's next over, signalling a slight change in intent as Pakistan went into lunch at 70-1.

After a delay to the resumption of the action, only two overs were played before the drizzle returned. The Windies' fortunes did not change after an early tea with wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich putting down Azam on 28 and Azhar bringing up his 26th Test half-century.

Azhar sent Holder to the boundary twice in one over but his partnership with Azam was ended when a moment of indecision gave Alzarri Joseph (1-39) his wicket.

Younis entered his final Test to a moment of the utmost class from the opposition and he played a capable back up to Azhar, who had a lucky escape when he dropped his bat while trying to defend Shannon Gabriel.

The pair were untroubled through to stumps, leaving the tourists in a decent position heading into day two.

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