GEORGETOWN, Guyana: “This is what West Indies cricket is about,” Darren Sammy, the team’s captain, said after a morale-boosting win over Pakistan in the first Test in Providence. There was much talk off the field in the lead-up to this Test: there was criticism about Sammy’s form, the absence of key players from the squad for the series, differences between senior players and the board, but West Indies emerged victors in a low-scoring encounter to put those issues on the back-burner. They also ended up depriving Pakistan of an opportunity to win a Test series in the West Indies for the first time.
“We as a team needed this performance,” Sammy, who picked up a five-wicket haul in the second innings to bowl out Pakistan for 178, said. “Lately, things hadn’t been going well but I had the belief, this team had the belief.”
Sammy failed with the bat, but finished the game with seven wickets. Two other performances stood out for West Indies, that of Devendra Bishoo in his debut Test and Ravi Rampaul, who had taken only four wickets in five Tests prior to the match, but took seven in the game, including crucial strikes early in both innings. “Rampaul looks fit, and has worked really hard with Ottis Gibson [the West Indies coach]. It was a tough decision to pick between him and Fidel Edwards,” Sammy said.
The batsmen, said Sammy, did well to hang in there on a tough pitch in both innings. “It was a difficult pitch. We found ourselves not playing the spin too well. But I commend the guys for the effort, they batted out time and put in a total which in the end was enough to get the victory.
“We saw how the wicket played on the first day and it was good to see West Indies battling, batting out the whole day.”
Pakistan were 80 for 3 overnight, chasing 219, but lost Asad Shafiq early on the fourth day. Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, and Umar Akmal put together a half-century stand but there wasn’t much support from the lower order against a spirited West Indies performance. Misbah acknowledged the better team had won.
“To lose this Test is disappointing, they played better cricket and bowled disciplined lines,” he said. Misbah praised Saeed Ajmal for his maiden ten-wicket haul in Tests — Ajmal finished with 11 — but rued missed opportunities and allowing the last-wicket pair of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Devendra Bishoo to extend the lead to 218 in the second innings.
“We dropped so many catches and gave away so many runs to the lower order. We were a little disappointing from the batting point of view also,” Misbah said. “We fought well yesterday [Saturday] to recover after losing early wickets, but most of our guys got out to good balls.” The second Test gets underway at St Kitts on May 20.