Jamaica: Babar Azam paid tribute to the ‘beauty of Test cricket’ after his Pakistan team suffered an agonising defeat to West Indies in Kingston.
Having set the Windies 168 to win in the fourth innings, Pakistan reduced the hosts to 16-3 and 151-9 as they closed in on a memorable victory.
But veteran fast bowler Kemar Roach and his teenage protege Jayden Seales combined in a 17-run last-wicket partnership to carry West Indies to a dramatic win in the opening Test of this two-match series.
“This is the beauty of Test cricket,” Babar said. “We put in a good effort with the bat,” he added.
“The bowlers then restricted them before our bowlers took the wickets. Again, in the second innings, we fought with the bat and the bowlers hit back.”
“It was swinging and seaming throughout in the second innings. But we were patient, and our attempt to stitch together partnerships.”
“Our bowlers were really good, especially Abbas and Shaheen. Had we taken those dropped catches, the result could have been different,” he concluded.
West Indies bowled Pakistan out for 217 on the first day of the Test, with Roach and Seales combining to take five wickets and Jason Holder claiming 3-26 from 15.3 overs.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite’s 97 then helped the Windies a 36-run first-innings lead, although it would have been an even greater advantage had it not been for Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas who combined for seven wickets.
Babar’s 55 was the highlight of Pakistan’s second innings, as the hosts’ pace attack once again impressed to limit the tourists to 203, with Seales claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul.
Shaheen threatened to rip through West Indies on day four – taking the first three wickets of the innings inside eight overs – but Jermaine Blackwood hit ten boundaries in a crucial 55 for the home side.
Still, Pakistan were one wicket away from victory when Mohammad Rizwan sprinted back and took a fine catch to dismiss Joshua Da Silva, which brought Seales and Roach together.
The No. 9 and No. 11 held their nerve to take West Indies to victory, with Roach hitting the winning runs to finish unbeaten on 30 from 52 balls and Seales with two from 13 deliveries.
‘The biggest threat is the straight ball. Jayden did it very well,’ Roach said. ‘He is a star for the future. His five wickets speaks wonders about our cricket.’
Windies skipper Brathwaite, meanwhile, added: ‘It was a remarkable Test. It is about patience. Who has more patience will come out on top.’