Pakistan in West Indies, 2011 May 25, 2011

Pakistan's spinners take the honours

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
In a drawn series that was almost completely dominated by the ball, the Pakistan spinners' performance stole the limelight

After a dismal batting performance in the low-scoring first Test, Pakistan regrouped in the second innings of the second Test and produced an excellent batting display to inflict a 196-run defeat on West Indies. Although they could not win their maiden series in the West Indies, Pakistan managed to draw their second consecutive series in the Caribbean. The highlight of the series was the inability of the West Indies batsmen to play spin. Pakistan's spinners captured 32 wickets of the 40 to fall, with Saeed Ajmal picking up 17 wickets in the two Tests. West Indies were clearly missing the services of Chris Gayle, who has been their top batsman for the last three years. The failure of their top order to contribute anything substantial in any of the four innings was the major difference in the end.

In what proved to be a contest between two average sides, Pakistan emerged as the team with the better batting and bowling stats. Their batsmen scored two centuries and five half-centuries while West Indies batsmen managed just two half-centuries. West Indies could not string together any partnerships of note in the two matches and managed just three fifty-plus stands. The lower-order batsmen hung around in both innings of the first Test and figured in small but highly crucial stands which ultimately set up the victory. In the second Test however, West Indies' bowlers could not strike regularly in the second innings and were not helped by some very poor fielding lapses. Pakistan's spinners had bamboozled West Indie's batsmen in the first Test and nothing much changed in the second game. Shivnarine Chanderpaul's absence meant that West Indies had lost one of their better players of spin and as a result, 15 wickets out of 20 fell to the spinners giving Pakistan a comfortable win.

Overall performance of Pakistan and West Indies
Team Matches won Average 100/50 50+ stands Wickets taken 5WI/10WM
Pakistan 1 27.41 2/5 11 40 2/1
West Indies 1 20.77 0/2 3 36 1/0

The series was almost completely dominated by the bowlers. Batsmen struggled to get starts and even when they did, very few went on to contribute anything meaningful. In the first Test, the top-order batsmen (1-6) from both teams were completely exposed. While Pakistan were in trouble against West Indies' pace bowlers and Devendra Bishoo, the host's batsmen were all at sea against the Pakistan spinners, in particular Ajmal. Devon Smith fell to Mohammad Hafeez in both the innings of the first Test making it the sixth consecutive time he had fallen to the same bowler in Tests and ODIs. The first Test was very much a case of West Indies' top order being only slightly better than their Pakistan counterparts.

The second Test seemed to be heading the same way as the first as both teams collapsed for scores less than 300 in their first innings. After a a few reprieves in the second innings though, Taufeeq Umar and Misbah-ul-Haq scored centuries and shared a vital 129-run partnership for the fourth wicket. In contrast with Pakistan, who managed six fifty-plus stands in the match, West Indies, managed only two fifty-plus stands in the game, giving them no chance of chasing down the huge target of 427.

Partnership stats for teams in each Test (Runs,dismissals,50+)
Team Test number 1st Wicket 2nd wicket 3rd wicket 4th wicket 5th wicket 6th wicket
Pakistan 1 7, 2, 0 52, 2, 1 3, 2, 0 83, 2, 1 56, 2, 1 14, 2, 0
West Indies 1 18, 2, 0 76, 2, 1 68, 2, 0 21, 2, 0 18, 2, 0 32, 2, 0
Pakistan 2 99, 2 , 1 81, 2, 1 11, 2, 0 179, 2, 2 155, 2, 2 18, 2, 0
West Indies 2 5, 2, 0 76, 2, 1 36, 2, 0 54, 2, 0 44, 2, 0 27, 2, 0

Spin had proved to be a huge factor when Pakistan played West Indies in the World Cup. On that occasion, Pakistan had bowled West Indies out for a paltry 112 to secure a ten-wicket win. The strategy of employing spinners far more regularly against the lead-footed West Indies batsmen was a masterstroke. Of the 32 wickets that fell to Pakistan's spinners, 12 of them were out leg before. Ajmal was easily the pick of the bowlers with a haul of 11 for 111 in the first Test followed by 6 for 135 in the second Test. Although Bishoo was impressive in the first Test, picking up four wickets in the first innings in Providence, it was the West Indies pace attack that created problems for Pakistan. Darren Sammy and Ravi Rampaul shared 14 wickets between them in the first Test and seven in the next game.

Dominance of Pakistan spinners
Team Type of bowler Wickets Average ER
Pakistan Pace 6 36.00 3.40
West Indies Pace 25 24.03 2.56
Pakistan Spin 32 17.54 2.31
West Indies Spin 9 36.20 3.09

Not a single West Indies batsman enjoyed a period of dominance over the opposition spinners. Carlton Baugh and the experienced Ramnaresh Sarwan fell to the spinners four times while scoring just 13 runs off them. Sarwan, who has been a consistent batsman and an excellent player of spin in the last few years, never looked settled in his stay at the crease and managed to aggregate just 54 runs in four innings. Darren Bravo and Lendl Simmons, despite falling twice each to the spinners, looked far more assured than the rest of the batsmen. Chanderpaul, whose rearguard effort in the first Test gave West Indies a chance to win, was never dominant, but was dismissed only once in scoring 37 runs.

West Indian batsmen against Pakistani spinners
Batsman Runs SR Dismissals Average
Ramnaresh Sarwan 13 0.88 4 3.25
Carlton Baugh 13 1.25 4 3.25
Brendan Nash 41 2.36 3 13.66
Darren Bravo 82 1.83 2 41.00
Lendl Simmons 63 2.58 2 31.50
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 37 1.53 1 37.00

Ajmal, who made his debut in 2009, picked up 18 wickets at over 42 that year. But since then, he has picked up his next 32 wickets at an average under 25. He has been at his best in the second and third innings of matches with 30 wickets at an average of 21.43. For Ajmal's career stats, click here.

Here are a few other statistical highlights from the series:

  • The 20 lbw dismissals in the first Test is a record, going past the previous highest of 17, also between the same two teams in Trinidad in 1993.
  • The centuries by Taufeeq and Misbah in the second innings of the second Test make it the first time that two Pakistan batsmen have scored centuries in an innings against West Indies in the West Indies.
  • There have been ten instances of Pakistan batsmen scoring a century in the team second innings against West Indies in the Caribbean. Hanif Mohammad's 337 is the highest and also remains the only triple-century to be scored in the team second innings in Tests.
  • Misbah's century was the third instance of a Pakistan captain scoring a century against West Indies.
  • Ajmal's figures of 11 for 111 in the first Test is the second-best bowling figures for a Pakistan bowler in a Test defeat, behind Wasim Akram's 11 for 110 against West Indies in 1990.