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Pakistan v West Indies, 1st Test – 5 Talking Points

Pakistan
Pakistani spinner Mohammad Nawaz celebrates with teammates. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan beat a stubborn West Indies by 56 runs in a hard fought game of Test cricket at the Dubai International stadium, Dubai to take a 1-0 up in the three-Test series. Chasing 346 to win, the visitors could manage only 289 on the final day after resuming to bat at their overnight score of 95/2. But the win didn’t come easy for Pakistan It took a marathon bowling effort from them to conclude the match in their team’s favour. West Indies showed a great fight and came close to scripting an amazing come-from-behind victory.

For much of the final day, Bravo proved to be an immovable object at the centre of the Dubai cricket ground. He was supported brilliantly by Roston Chase and skipper Jason Holder. The Pakistan bowlers, who had begun the day on a wonderful note, were made to grind hard for the historic win.

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After picking two quick wickets in the opening session, they had to wait till the final phase of the tea session to taste further success. West Indies looked in contention for a victory and the situation had become a bit tense in the Pakistan camp. Head coach Mickey Arthur looked nervous all the time. But, Yasir Shah & Co. continued to bowl with a big heart and turned things around in the last session to enable Pakistan register a memorable victory in its 400th test.

1.Darren Bravo’s fighting century goes in vain:

Darren Bravo continued to dominate the Pakistanis and struck a fighting century, scoring 116. All eyes were on him when the West Indies resumed batting at their overnight score of 95/2. After the fall Marlon Samuels in the first over of the final day, Bravo was the only hope left and he did not disappoint.

The classy left-hander held one end firmly and kept the visitors alive in the match. He seemed under no pressure. Almost all his attempted drives met the middle of the bat. His focus was superior and apart from a couple of occasions, seldom did the Pakistan bowlers manage to trouble him.

He first put on 77 with Roston Chase for the fifth wicket to take West Indies within 160 runs of their target of 346. Later continued the fight with skipper Jason Holder. The left-hander brought his 5th century on Asian soil just after the new ball an over off the last over before Supper but could take his team past the finishing line.

2. West Indies fight back after the first ball setback:

West Indies did not have the best of the starts today. Overnight batsman Marlon Samuels and Jermaine Blackwood could not much and were dismissed cheaply.

Mohammad Amir struck in the first over of the day with the wicket of Samuels to send a shock in the Windies camp. Approximately 11 overs later, the chasing side inflicted another blow when Blackwood was trapped lbw by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz.

The fans at the stadium expected a quick finish to the game. But that was not going to happen. West Indies found a road to recovery soon. Bravo then combined with Roston Chase to help West Indies rally ahead. Both kept things under control and deny any success to the opposite.

3. Twin strikes brings back Pakistan back in the contest:

The Pakistani bowlers were trying relentlessly. And their relentless work paid off eventually. West Indies, despite losing two wickets in the first session had managed to add 59 runs and ended at 154/4 at tea.

Bravo and Chase defied the bowling side in the following session also before Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah came up with superb wicket taking deliveries. Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah snapped one wicket each in short successions to put Pakistan on the driver’s seats.

Chase, who was playing admirably was cleaned up by Yasir Shah’s with a perfect loopy delivery in the 71st over after his attempt to drive the ball on the leg side failed fatally. Shane Dowrich, who came in after Chase, didn’t look promising and was cleaned up by an impeccable yorker by Wahab Riaz just two balls later.

4. At Supper:

The game was evenly poised in the favour of both West Indies and Pakistan at supper. Bravo and Holder stabilised the chase and ensured that West Indies did not suffer any further damage till supper after the late strikes by Wahab and Yasir.

The pressure was on both the sides but neither team was playing for a draw, both were aiming for a win. History was backing Pakistan heavily. Only twice in Test history had the last four wickets put on more than 150 to successfully chase down a target.

The more recent of those was in 1907. West Indies’ last four wickets were left with 152 more to pull off a stunning come-from-behind victory. At Supper, West Indies required 114 runs to win while Pakistan need 4 wickets to wrap up the tense match.

5.The wicket that will go down in the history:

The 95th over will forever be remembered by cricket fans whenever this thrilling Pink ball Test is remembered. At the end of the 94th over, West Indies were sitting at 262/6 with 84 runs required to win. The situation was getting tense after each passing over before Yasir Shah took a gravity-defying catch to dismiss Bravo and swing the match.

Holder took the strike in the match defining over. Shah looked pretty much tense and chatted with Amir at length before finally running into bowl. The first two balls were effectively played out. The third ball saw Yasir & Co. raise a huge ambitious appeal for a slip catch which was turned down after a review.

Holder then exchanged the strike of the second last ball to bring back Bravo at the strike. And, this was where the game changed. Shah produced a sensational dive to grab a return catch and wipe off all the hopes of a win for West Indies. A booming drive from Bravo off a tossed up delivery went awry and proved to be fatal as he failed to connect it and hit it straight back to the bowler.

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