Kemar Roach: 'I have never been in a situation like that before'
Sabina Park hero recalls last-wicket partnership that secured West Indies a one-wicket win
Small targets. Big drama. The story has done the rounds for as long as there has been Test cricket and yet another riveting chapter was added to it at Sabina Park.
West Indies were set 168 to win. But they ended up battered and bruised and barely standing as Pakistan, and especially Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali, went into haal mode.
A match that had ebbed and flowed, forever refusing to reveal a clear winner, had come to an unbelievable climax. One team needed 17 runs. The other needed one wicket. Anything was possible.
"I have never been in a situation like that before, batting with the tail," Kemar Roach, a professional cricketer of 13 years, said after play. "I am part of the tail, so for me it was to go out there and believe. That was the biggest thing - to believe and stay positive - and it worked, and I give thanks."
Roach's strength of will translated into 30 unbeaten, match-winning runs. His experience shepherded the 19-year old Seales, who had already announced that he was ready for the big stage by picking up 5 for 55 on Saturday, through a last-wicket partnership that just wouldn't be broken, even across four high-pressure overs.
"The plan was to just stay positive. That's me," Roach said. "I was just trying to take on every ball as it came. This is by far the most important innings so far. I was just trying to pick the gaps and run hard. My advice to Jayden was just protect the stumps. The biggest threat is the straight ball. He did it very well. He is a star for the future. His five wickets today speaks wonders about our cricket. All the best to him, and I wish him a great career!"
Seales' contribution to West Indies' victory - eight wickets and an equally crucial two runs off 13 balls - earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. It also left him speechless. "Test cricket has been a dream come true for me," he managed in the end as he picked up his prize and walked away during the presentation.
So it was up to his captain to come up with some suitable words, much as it had been down to him to come up with a suitable total in the first innings. Kraigg Brathwaite's 97 off 221 deliveries was the highest individual score across all four innings of an extremely tight game. "We never lost hope," he said. "It was truly amazing. I thought Pakistan bowled really well. It is about patience - who has more patience will come out on top."
Last week, Phil Simmons, the West Indies coach, had pulled his batters up, demanding more runs from them, but he has rarely had a bad thing to say about his bowlers. And in the end, with light fading and tensions rising, they were the ones that stood up to be counted yet again.