When the final day of the opening Test between Pakistan and West Indies in Dubai began, expectations of a thrilling finish abounded. Showing signs of waking up from their lengthy recent slumber, the Caribbean outfit threatened to match Misbah-ul-Haq’s team blow for blow until the game-changing moment defined the landmark day-night match in Pakistan’s favor.
The sight of a diving Yasir Shah to pouch a return catch off the well set Darren Bravo was perhaps the most influential play of the entire game. The wily leg-spinner targeted the generous rough area outside the left-hander’s off-stump and managed to induce a tired-looking waft. In a moment of rare magic, the 30-year old displayed his athleticism and flew to his left to hold on to the grab.
The right-hander’s pumped up celebration showed the enormity of the wicket as a forlorn Bravo could hardly believe what he had just done. The southpaw was batting on 116 and had been at the crease for more than six hours and looked determined until then to help the West Indies move towards the vicinity of the 346-run target. However, his dismissal would effectively signal the end of their hopes despite skipper Jason Holder’s gritty effort at the end of the day.
(Video Courtesy: Cricket World Youtube channel)
Upon the completion of the match, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq admitted, “The way Bravo handled Yasir Shah, that was really something special. He (Yasir) was turning the ball from the rough but he (Bravo) showed good defense and attacked him at times. That was the main reason he neutralized Yasir for quite a long time but still Yasir managed to take wickets. Every passing ball was putting pressure but thankfully we managed to win the game. You should give credit to the opposition. They played really well and it was a good game in the end.”
Earlier in the match, Yasir had become the joint second quickest bowler ever to complete 100 Test wickets when he castled Miguel Cummins in the first innings. Despite concerns regarding the viability of the pink ball from a spinner’s point of view, leg spinners from both sides managed to play highly influential roles in shaping the direction of the engrossing contest.
Devendra Bishoo was instrumental in allowing West Indies to run the much stronger Pakistani side a lot closer than they would have anticipated. After Misbah did not choose to enforce the follow on, their batsmen completely lost the plot in a bid to hasten the scoring rate. The wrist spinner's figures of 8-49 turned out to be the best ever effort by a visiting bowler on Asian soil.
With the pitch not deteriorating enough to help the spinners run riot, West Indies bravely mounted a response to the daunting target. As long as Bravo was at the crease, their chances looked pretty reasonable. His dismissal literally at the hands of Yasir ended the surge though the lower order tried to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.
But, the ship had sailed past them at that point and Pakistan hung on for a 56-run victory to go 1-0 up in the 3-match series.