First of all let me congratulate both the teams for playing out a brilliant game of cricket. Amidst ridiculously long IPL, it was wonderful to see two teams slugging it out in the oldest format of the game. When Pakistan was leaving for their Caribbean tour, there was confusion between the West Indies superstars and the WICB. The young West Indies team was completely written off and Misbah was primed to create history. He was all set to become the first Pakistani captain to win a test series in West Indies.
But when I looked at the composition of both the teams ahead of the first test, there was little to choose between them. Both the teams lacked experience and Pakistan was seriously down on batting to be called as the favorites. The absence of Younis and Yousuf in the middle order meant that they just had Misbah to guide the youngsters. Pakistan batting had too many players who had little experience in the longer format of the game, which eventually made the difference. The pitch wasn’t a great one to bat on and required great skill and patience from the batsmen to survive and unfortunately for Pakistan none of the young players stood out to be counted. West Indies though had nothing to lose and with the addition of Chanderpaul and Sarwan in the middle order they had the much needed experience on the batting front.
The game was fascinating to watch. Both the teams were low on batting which probably made it even more interesting. The bowling attacks of both teams though was well balanced and for sure was their strongest suite. West Indies had 2 good quick bowlers, an excellent young leggie and a steady medium pacer perfectly suited to the wicket in Guyana. Pakistan boasted of excellent spinners and two good young pacers. So the contest was always between the batsmen of both the teams.
Pakistani batting though struggled on a sluggish wicket and was completely at sea against the wicket to wicket bowling of Sammy. Their bowling though was very good led by Saeed Ajmal who was brilliant with 11 wickets in the match. Umar Gul though was disappointing as he failed to claim a single wicket. The other spinners in the team Rehman and Hafeez supported Ajmal well to keep WI to low totals in both the innings.
For West Indies their captain Darren Sammy led from the front as he claimed 7 wickets in the match including a fifer in the second innings. The batting though had some good contributions from Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Roach, Bishoo and Simmons. Ravi Rampaul was excellent on his return as he bowled with fire and pace claiming 7 wickets in the game and he was well supported by Roach. Bishoo was excellent on his debut as he picked 4 important wickets in the first innings and also contributed with the bat in both the innings.
It was an impressive performance by the West Indies team which wasn’t given any chance by the experts. The Pakistan team management will be terribly disappointed as they would have expected to win this series comfortably. The selection of the team again was baffling as Yousuf I think should still be part of Pakistan middle order for couple of years at least. The young Pakistan players need guidance and who better than Yousuf to give them the same? Younis (Who had to leave the team mid-way due to a family tragedy) also was missing from the X1 and their batting was entirely dependent on Misbah and the unreliable Akmal.
I guess having a team which is so less on experience on an overseas tour is suicidal to say the least. Except for Asad shafiq and Azhar Ali all the other young batsmen look out of depth at this level. Umar Akmal who is an excellent talent needs to take more responsibility. With just few days to go for the second test at St Kitts to begin, the Pakistan team needs to pull themselves up and put up a decent show for their fans.
The West Indies team though would extremely happy with this performance. This was their first test win in two years and the first in 18 games. The team played with Great Spirit and looked hungry for success. I hope that this sparks a turnaround in WI fortune and hopefully the fans will get interested in cricket again. For a great contest of cricket it was sad to see empty stands in Guyana. I am used to seeing a party crowd in the 90’s when WI was still a force in world cricket for test cricket. I hope this marks the return of calypso in West Indies cricket and we see an excellent atmosphere in St Kitts.