Although Pakistan ended the tour of West Indies on a high after a 196-run win in the second and final Test to level the series 1-1, there was a lot to be learnt from the sojourn.
Two centuries in four innings – both coming in Pakistan’s final outing with the bat – dropped catches and a poor show by the tourists’ fast-bowlers on pitches where Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy and Kemar Roach excelled, denied Pakistan a chance to earn their first Test series win in the Caribbean.
Even in the second Test, Pakistan were reduced to 194 for nine before the final pair of Tanvir Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal added a valuable 78. Victory was owed to the spinners as they completed the job on the final day and claimed 15 of the 20 wickets to crush West Indies, whose batting woes troubled them thoughout the tour.
Taufeeq Umar makes a comeback
While Taufeeq Umar reached three figures after eight years - his last century came against South Africa in 2003 when Pakistan won by eight wickets – Misbah hit his first ton as Pakistan’s captain.
However, the result was a more favourable one for the hosts who started off as the underdogs and maintained their record of never losing a Test series against Pakistan at home.
This came after West Indies lost the One-Day International series 3-2, which former players said Pakistan should have clinched 5-0, and beat the tourists in the one-off Twenty20 as well.
Rehman surprised by
Abdur Rehman, who finished with nine wickets in two matches, was surprised by the support the West Indies pitches offered to the spinners. Pakistan slow bowlers claimed 32 of the 40 available wickets with left-arm spinner Rehman picking up four for 65 on the last day of the second Test.
“We’ve been surprised by the bounce and spin that we have gotten from the pitches,” said Rehman. “West Indies have struggled against us. It would not be a bad idea to dig up this pitch, and carry it around with me, so that I can get plenty of wickets.”
Rehman also echoed views of captain Misbah with both praising the team’s fighting spirit after the poor start to the final Test.
“It really has been a good comeback for us. Our batting struggled on the first day, but this is the way cricket is played. Our coaches kept encouraging us, and giving us confidence, and they told us not to worry about what happened.”
WI captain satisfied
Sammy, the West Indies captain, was focusing on the positives during the series and was geared up to face India, the world’s number one ranked Test team, next.
“We did a great job getting the win in Guyana and we were looking for similar success here in St Kitts, but things did not go our way,” said Sammy. “Pakistan played some good cricket and you have to give them credit. Our bowlers did all that was asked of them all throughout the series. They bowled with heart and that is what we asked.”
Rampaul collected 11 wickets in the two-match Test series and was the leading fast-bowler just ahead of his captain, Darren Sammy, who finished with 10 wickets.
The opener made his first Test appearance in four years against South Africa last year and scored two half-centuries in 10 innings leading up to the second Test. After a 11 in the first-innings, Taufeeq hit 135 on a low pitch after being given two lifelines.
A tally of 79 runs in three innings did not do justice to Misbah, who had scored six successive half-centuries before the tour. The Test captain matched the failure by scoring his first ton as captain and increased the run-rate before the declaration.
Pitches where Rampaul and Sammy claimed 21 wickets between them, Riaz’s haul of four did not impress. But the fact that Pakistan spinners were so successful forced their use and Riaz had to be content bowling 41 overs in four innings.
He was Pakistan’s star during the series. The off-spinner’s celebration may have been cut short by Viv Richards’ comments but the 33-year-old was Pakistan’s main weapon against a West Indies batting line-up that struggled in face of the spinners.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2011.
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