Pakistan seal 2-0 series victory
Needing to take eight wickets in a day, Pakistan's bowlers put in a sustained bowling performance to finally end West Indies' resistance and seal the series 2-0. Shivnarine Chanderpaul battled hard with a spirited 69, but West Indies, hampered by the fact that several batsmen failed to carry on after getting starts, folded to 244 for 9, and with Ramnaresh Sarwan not being fit to bat after taking a blow to the foot, the match finished more than an hour before the scheduled close.
West Indies seemed to have done enough to save when they progressed to 226 for 5 at tea. The injury to Sarwan - he was hit on the toe by a vicious inswinging yorker and has been ruled out of the ODI series with a hairline fracture - meant that West Indies were, for all practical purposes, six down, but Chanderpaul was playing flawlessly. Moreover, the light was getting murky too - the last 20 minutes before tea was played under floodlights - which suggested play would be called off significantly before the scheduled close.
The second over after tea changed that equation completely. Danish Kaneria, who bowled with unflagging enthusiasm on a slow pitch, slipped in a quicker one which straightened and trapped Chanderpaul in front. Next ball, Daren Powell prodded one straight to silly point, and suddenly West Indies had slumped to 227 for 7. It would have been even better for Pakistan had Kamran Akmal snaffled an outside edge from Ramdin in the previous over - the ball just evaded his outstretched right hand, and Ramdin lived on. Abdul Razzaq, the unlucky bowler, soon got some reward for a superb spell of reverse-swing bowling when he trapped Jerome Taylor in front, and with the light improving, there was little chance of the rest of the West Indian batsmen lasting the distance.
In the end, a pitch which had been castigated all around produced a match which went into the final session, and the credit for stretching the game that far on the final day was largely due to Chanderpaul. His ability to play late was especially beneficial, and he waited for the swing and seldom committed to a stroke. Against Kaneria, he used his pad to good effect, stretching forward to negate the rough, and frustrating Kaneria into either overpitching or dropping it short. Either way, it allowed Chanderpaul to ease him away for runs. Till he was finally done in by a superb quicker one by Kaneria, Chanderpaul showed exceptional nous in tackling both pace and spin in testing conditions.
Ultimately Pakistan won with some time to spare, but that didn't look likely through the first hour in the morning, when Brian Lara and Sarwan started proceedings. In St Lucia earlier this year Lara had saved the Test against India with a last-day century, and he threatened to repeat the feat, batting with utmost assurance whether in defence or attack. With the pitch still encouraging low bounce, Lara batted well outside the crease against the seamers, defending solidly to keep the good balls at bay, but also punishing the loose ones. Nazir swung the ball and beat his outside edge a couple of times, but he also felt the heat of Lara's strokes, being clipped off his legs and square-driven for two glorious fours. Lara was just one short of another fifty, when, clearly distracted by a five-minute delay due to sightscreen problems, he drove too early off the back foot and spooned a catch to cover.
Till that breakthrough, West Indies were moving along smoothly, with Sarwan getting into his stride as well. He was too eager to attack at the start, mistiming a couple of drives early in the day, but gradually settled in with some excellent strokes of his own - a cover-drive off Gul was a classic, but Gul got his own back soon after. Buoyed after Lara's dismissal, he bowled a scorching yorker, similar to the one that had comprehensively bowled Sarwan in the first innings. Sarwan got his foot in the way this time, but that only meant a painful blow which required him to be helped off the field, and eventually ruled him out of the rest of the tour.
Those two blows swung the game Pakistan's way, and it got even better for them when Runako Morton gifted his wicket away after a brief blitz. He creamed Kaneria for 16 in an over, including two lofted shots down the ground which fetched a four and a six, and a square-cut for four. However, in the first ball of Kaneria's next over Morton threw it away, slapping one off the back foot straight back to the bowler.
West Indies struggled to 144 for 4 at lunch, and though Dwayne Bravo and Chanderpaul added a promising 57 for the fifth wicket, Nazir put the game back in Pakistan's favour when Bravo guided one to slip. That opened the door somewhat, and when Kaneria struck twice immediately after tea, there was no coming back for West Indies.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo