West Indies coach Stuart Law is deeply disappointed with the Bridgetown pitch, on which his team registered a stirring 106-run victory against Pakistan this week. The track, Law said, suited Pakistan more and left him "heartbroken" for his quick bowlers. Praising his side for winning convincingly despite that, he said the victory came as a result of the hard work they put in but do not often get credit for.
"I wasn't expecting what we turned up to see," Law said. "If we can't get a good coverage of grass in a tropical climate, there is something wrong. It wasn't the sort of pitch we would have liked, I know that Pakistan were licking their lips when they saw it because it was a bit like a Pakistani pitch.
"Day two when we were bowling, bouncers were landing five metres short of the keeper. We've got boys who bowl 90 miles an hour, and to see the ball do that is heartbreaking, particularly on day two. You expect it on day four, day five, no problem. But to get through the game the way we did, in those conditions, which suited the opposition more so, very proud of the effort."
West Indies' victory brought the series level at 1-1, with one Test left to play. In the first Test, they fell to a seven-wicket defeat after collapsing in their second innings to 152. Here, they conceded the first-innings lead, before a second-innings seven-for from legspinner Yasir Shah left Pakistan chasing 188. Shannon Gabriel, with help from 20-year-old Alzarri Joseph and captain Jason Holder, made sure they did not get close.
Law said the work Gabriel puts in behind the scenes to be fit and ready for the games needed applauding. "He just improves every time he goes out there. Not [just] his effort on the field, that's unquestionable, but behind the scenes, which people don't see. He goes to lengths to see he's right and in perfect physical condition every time he goes out on the field.
"He has had injury problems, but physio CJ Clarke is working tirelessly with him. Even away from the Test-match scene, he gets in early, works hard with him. And Shannon is very diligent with his preparation. When you've got a guy who can bowl 90+, you want to make sure you're looking after him, and then he produces like he did this Test, that was just outstanding work."
Much like Gabriel, Law said many in the team put in a lot of hard work away from the public eye. He said there was no shortage of talent, but improvement would only come with more exposure to Test cricket - of the playing XI in Bridgetown, only Kraigg Brathwaite has played more than 30 Tests. "They've got the talent, that's for sure. It's one thing having talent, but when you couple that with experience, you become a formidable opponent. At the moment there's not a lot of experience in our dressing room.
"The experience is coming. We've seen in difficult conditions, playing against the best legspinner in the world [we won]. He got seven wickets but a lot of boys coped with him pretty well. To keep him out for as long as we did, I think [it] shows that we are learning.
"From the first Test match we changed a few technical things with our batsmen, it seemed to work for the right handers. The work ethic…if someone says the West Indies boys don't work hard enough, they don't know what they're talking about. The boys are pretty proud of their effort, leading up to this Test match and during it, to strive for that perfect game, to strive for errors to be eradicated… We're going in the right direction."
The series decider will begin on May 10 in Dominica.