By Sean Devers at Providence
When Man-of-the-Match Darren Sammy scattered the stumps of Saeed Ajmal at 1:28PM yesterday at Providence to claim his fourth five-wicket haul and first as West Indies Captain, his team had won its first Test since beating England in Jamaica, 17 Tests ago in February 2009.
The emphatic 40-run win, with almost a day and a session to spare, was also the first win by the West Indies against Pakistan in 53 years in five Tests in Guyana and included a World Record 20 LBW decisions, surpassing the 17 in Trinidad in 1993 between the same teams. This was also the first Test victory for West Indies in Guyana since they beat England in 1998 at Bourda.
West Indies head to St Kitts for the final Test from Friday assured of maintaining their record of never losing a home series to Pakistan in seven tours since the first in 1958 as Sammy, the only St Lucian to play International cricket, collected his first win in four Tests as Captain.
Scores: West Indies 226 & 156, Pakistan 160 & 152.
Pakistan began the penultimate day on 80-3, still 139 runs away from only their fifth win in 22 Tests in the Caribbean and quickly lost Asad Shafik, spectacularly bowled for 42 with a ball which reverse swung from Ravi Rampaul in the third over of the day.
Skipper Misbah Ul Haq and Umar Akmal consolidated on a track which played much better than it did on the third afternoon and took the score to 135 with gritty batting before Sammy struck two important blows in his third over of the day to change the course of a match filled with fluctuating fortunes.
He trapped Ul Haq, leg before for 52 and Mohammed Salam for duck to the joy of a small but vocal crowd.
The 36-year-old Ul Haq showed the tenacity of his unrelated name sake Inzamam Ul Haq and stroked six fours and a straight six off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo in his match high score of 52.
Ul Haq’s 11th Test fifty lasted 160 balls and 219 minutes and although Akmal batted bravely for 47, the Captain’s demise was the most crucial moment on the final day.
At 151-6 at Tea with 66 required by Pakistan, the match was still in the balance since the 20-year-old Akmal, known for his free scoring, was still there on 39 and left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who top-scored with an unbeaten 40 in the first innings was with him.
While Kemar Roach, the spearhead of the attack in recent times in the absence of Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor looked below his best in this game, Rampaul bowled with pace, control and purpose and soon removed Rehman (6) to a brilliant catch at second slip by Devon Smith inches off the ground as Pakistan slipped to 160-7.
Three runs later, Sammy, trapped Umar Gul leg before for one. He then rapped the dangerous Akmal in front at 166-9 and the West Indian supporters were dancing in the stands. With still 41 required to win and the last pair at the crease, all hope seemed lost for Pakistan but with this West Indies team, another turn in fortunes in the See-Saw contest was not impossible.
However, the 27-year-old Sammy, under mounting pressure to justify his place in the Test team, was not about to let his first Test win slip out of his grasp and breached Jamal’s defence with a beauty to end the match in spectacular fashion.
In 45 Tests between the two sides, both sides have now won 15 times while 15 games have been drawn.
West Indies now just need to avoid defeat in St Kitts to win only their fourth Test series since 2003 when they beat Sri Lanka.
All the controversy affecting West Indies cricket will not automatically go away because of yesterday’s result but for now, the smiles are back on the faces of the fans from Kingston, Jamaica in the North to Georgetown, Guyana in the South.
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