May 23, 2000

Late declaration puts spectators to sleep

Aided by a timid, belated Pakistan declaration, the West Indies grimly, but in the end comfortably, held on for a draw in the second Test.

Pakistan captain Moin Khan kept his second innings going until after lunch, needlessly wasting valuable time that could have been better used by his high-class spinners, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq, on a worn, if still easy-paced, pitch.

It left the West Indies with the token challenge of scoring 275 to win from the last 57 overs of the match.

More significantly, it reduced the chances Mushtaq and Saqlain had of working their way through the batting.

Pakistan had only four wickets in the bag, for 132, when Moin acknowledged failure and agreed to end the match with five overs still available.

It was only the second draw in the 17 Tests at Kensington since 1977 when the West Indies' last pair, Andy Roberts and Colin Croft, kept Mushtaq Mohammad's Pakistan at bay. This was not as close but it was almost as tense.

When Waqar Younis removed the left-handed opener Adrian Griffith in the fourth over to umpire Eddie Nicholls' first lbw decision of the match and Wasim Akram produced a wicked lifter to account for Sherwin Campbell through a gully catch in the fifth, the spinners had the perfect platform from which to operate.

Mushtaq threw the West Indies into more bother as his second ball claimed Shivnarine Chanderpaul, chipping down the wicket to edge a close off-side catch off the pad.

At 41 for three, another testing 43.4 overs remained but captain Jimmy Adams and Wavell Hinds, two of the seven left-handers in the first nine, virtually guaranteed safety by holding firm for the next hour and three-quarters and 28 overs.

Hinds, the tall, 23-year-old Jamaican whose first-innings 165 was the highest of the three hundreds in a match that yielded 1 202 runs, again impressed with 52.

It was not only enough to earn him 'Prof' Edwards' vote as Man Of The Match but to certify him as a genuine Test No. 3.

In circumstances de-signed to test the temperament of a young batsman in his fourth Test, he was as confident and relaxed as a veteran.

He still didn't read Mushtaq's googly but he was always quick to pounce on the loose ball.

By the time his slack cut at Mushtaq's wide googly ended in Moin's gloves, things were just about safe.

It allowed 40 minutes for Ramnaresh Sarwan to further beguile his growing fan club with a couple of nimble-footed drives off Mushtaq.

The 19-year-old Guyanese ended his debut Test with 95 runs, and they're still to get him out.

As always, Adams was solid and level-headed for his two hours, 20 minutes and it was fitting that the captain was there at the end, 34 to his name.

All Moin would reveal to the media at Sunday's post-play chat was that he had 'a secret plan' for the final day.

It had been evident in his team's batting after lunch on the fourth day when they were so careful they advanced by a mere 92 runs off 58 overs. After conceding a first innings lead of 145, Moin was clearly intent on avoiding defeat at all costs.

Even though he made an unexpected appearance on the West Indies bench during the day, the West Indies are still without Brian Lara and only twice had the team batting last in a Kensington Oval Test scored over 200 for victory.

The run-rate in each of the first three innings was under three an over, but Moin was taking no chances.

If they were to win, the West Indies would have to score at 4.82 runs an over and that was clearly out of the question.

Moin let his second innings occupy the entire first session before declaring at 419 for nine four balls into the second over after lunch.

By then, the West Indies had been effectively batted out of the match and would obviously struggle to survive on a pitch belatedly starting to show signs of wear and tear after more than four days of 30 degrees Celsius sunshine.

The extension of the Pakistan innings allowed Abdur Razzaq, the 20-year-old all-rounder, to once more advertise his talent as he and Saqlain Mushtaq batted through the first two hours without being separated.

A strained leg muscle prevented Razzaq from taking the field for the second half of the lengthy West Indies first innings and, obliged to use a runner, he moved, without the slightest bother, from his overnight 32 to 72 before hoisting a catch to long-on to provide the persevering Reon King with his fourth wicket.

With hundreds by the 23-year-old Hinds, Pakistan's 18-year-old Imran Nazir and Sarwan's, the match has provided an encouraging preview for the future. Both teams have much to look forward to.

As the first Test was condemned to a draw by rain that eliminated the last two days, the third and final Test, starting in St. John's, Antigua, on Thursday will decide the series.

This match has confirmed that the teams are evenly matched and another keen contest is in prospect.