At Basseterre, St Kitts, May 20-24, 2011. Pakistan won by 196 runs. Toss: Pakistan. Test debut: K. C. Brathwaite.
After their hard-fought win in Guyana, the West Indians not unreasonably expected St Kitts to serve up the featherbed of the previous year's drawn Test against South Africa, on which despairing bowlers conceded five individual hundreds, and 1,324 runs in all for 19 wickets. Instead, the pitch - hard and dry, encouraging turn and bounce - played into the hands of Pakistan's spinners, who shared 15 wickets, and second-innings hundreds from Taufeeq Umar and Misbah-ul-Haq put the match beyond West Indies' grasp. Pakistan levelled the series midway through the final day.
The outcome might have been closer, if not different, had West Indies not twice wasted promising positions through slack cricket. Tanvir Ahmed's robust 57, with ten fours, and his last-wicket partnership of 78 with Saeed Ajmal on the second morning took advantage of some tame tactics to raise a challenging total. But after Roach and Rampaul helped limit the deficit to 49 by adding 60 for the ninth wicket in reply, Roach's no-ball reprieved Hafeez after he edged his fourth delivery to the keeper, while
Taufeeq was missed in the slips off Roach at one and 13. Taufeeq's let-offs probably rescued his international career: he proceeded to his first Test hundred since October 2003, carefully accumulated off 314 balls, before he was dismissed by a combination of careless running and Sammy's direct hit from short fine leg. As West Indies became increasingly flat, he added 129 with Misbah, who declared on completing a comfortable hundred of his own, his third in Tests, from 141 balls with two sixes and ten fours. After that, it was a matter of when, not if.
There had been no early hint of Pakistan's eventual dominance. Only Misbah and Azhar Ali played with any conviction on the first day after Rampaul removed the openers and Asad Shafiq for 24, then Sammy and Bishoo chipped away at the middle order. Next day, however, Tanvir and Ajmal exposed the first signs of West Indian vulnerability under pressure. The new ball accounted for Simmons, to his second delivery, and debutant Kraigg Brathwaite from Barbados (at 18 years 170 days, the youngest to play for West Indies since Robin Bynoe in 1958-59, and the fifth-youngest in their history), before Pakistan's spinners took over. Chanderpaul's late withdrawal with a shoulder niggle allowed Samuels to return for his first Test since his suspension by the ICC for contact with an alleged Indian bookmaker. His cautious 57 was the top score but, when he and Sammy were caught in the deep, only the bowlers remained to reduce the deficit, which was then 114. Coping with the spinners as capably as anyone, Roach and Rampaul kept their side in touch. The contest would have been back in the balance soon after the start of Pakistan's second innings, but Roach overstepped, and then saw those two catches go down. Afterwards the batsmen steadily gathered runs against opponents who seemed only to be waiting for the declaration.
West Indies' diffidence permeated their second innings. Brathwaite was once more an early victim, his off stump rattled by his fifth ball, and West Indies ended the fourth day on the brink of defeat after Darren Bravo's 50 was ended by Wahab Riaz five overs before the close. It was a carbon copy of his dismissal in the First Test, lbw to the same bowler aiming to force a full-length ball to leg. Nash didn't add to his fighting 30 on the final morning, after which a few strong blows by Sammy and Rampaul offered little consolation for another disappointment.
Ajmal's six wickets brought his total in the short series to 17. The batsmen found his doosra as impossible to read as an Urdu text, but it was an open secret that West Indies' management and players were convinced his elbow flexion in delivery went well beyond the ICC's sanctioned 15 degrees.
Man of the Match: Taufeeq Umar. Man of the Series: Saeed Ajmal.
Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years