KINGSTON, Jamaica: If you had glanced at the weather forecast for Kingston last Friday, you might have been forgiven for wondering if the city had any business hosting a Test match. There was rain expected across all five days, with dry spells in between. When Misbah-ul-Haq looked at it, he knew there was only one plausible path to victory, which his team achieved shortly after lunch on the fifth day.
Misbah himself played no small part. Having contributed 99 not out to stretch the first-innings lead, which eventually proved decisive, he came out to biff two successive sixes to seal the game. Soon after, Misbah said the thought of this being his final series had not prevented him from playing without having fun.
“If you’re not enjoying yourself, then there’s no point of playing. I’m not the kind of person who would linger on if I wasn’t having fun,” Misbah said.
“These wins are special, and this is one more Test match that the team has given to me as a gift.”
While the batsmen’s role in giving a first-innings cushion can’t be overstated, it was the bowlers who ensured victory was possible despite losing almost all of the second day to rain. “With tricky weather, the idea was to win the toss and bowl first,” he said.
“We just had one chance to get them out quickly and then play one good innings. Otherwise it wasn’t going to be possible.
“We knew that it was going to be tough batting on the fifth day. I think the bowlers did very well. In the first innings Amir, especially, his spell was crucial. In the second innings, again Amir and especially Yasir’s spell was incredible. Getting six wickets this morning in no time was the game changer.”
The one worry Pakistan could have is that going in with just one spin bowler risks overworking the faster bowlers. This concern, however, did not manifest itself during the game, with West Indies lasting just 147.4 overs across both innings.
With 19-year-old Shadab Khan, who impressed during the limited-overs leg of the series, waiting in the wings, Misbah admitted that playing a second legspinner was a possibility, but said a call would only be taken after assessing the conditions.
“Our combination will depend on the conditions we get, and especially how the pitch looks before the Test match,” he said. “This pitch had a lot of moisture and that is why we opted to bowl first and go with three seamers. With our combination, it’s difficult, it’s difficult to sneak in the fifth bowler, especially since we have six specialist batsmen, so having three fast bowlers and two spinners becomes tricky.”