Kemar Roach has labelled Sunday’s dramatic one-wicket victory over Pakistan in the opening Test in Jamaica, as the most significant of his 66-Test career.
The 33-year-old batted for a shade over 1-½ hours for an unbeaten 30 that fired West Indies to their target of 168, after the innings lay in ruins at 114 for seven at tea and then 151 for nine, an hour later at Sabina Park.
“It was a big victory. I think it’s the biggest victory for me in Test cricket,” said Roach, who arrived at the crease immediately after tea with 54 runs required, following Jason Holder’s demise to the last delivery before the break.
“The way we fought or had to fight to get this win was really strong stuff. It was good to see the guys sticking together obviously. The support on the balcony yesterday while I was batting was amazing and then the communication in the middle was simple. I think that’s what helped us to execute as well as we did.
“It’s a good win, it’s gone down in history. Now it’s on to the next one.”
West Indies found themselves wobbling on 16 for three in the eighth over over of the run chase after a devastating new-ball spell from left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi accounted for Kieran Powell (4), captain Kraigg Brathwaite (2) and Nkrumah Bonner (5) in quick succession.
Vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood top-scored with 55 in a 68-run, fourth wicket stand with Roston Chase (22) but they were part of a collapse which saw four wickets tumble for 30 runs to leave the hosts tottering at the second interval.
Roach put on 28 for the eighth wicket with Joshua Da Silva (13) before defying the Pakistanis in critical stands with Jomel Warrican and last man Jayden Seales.
“Honestly, after tea when me and Joshua started, the way we were ticking if off slowly, there was a lot of self belief,” Roach explained.
“The communication was very good as I said, we executed what we wanted to do and trusted the process. It was tough but things were going kind of smoothly.
“[Da Silva] got out with a decent ball, then the lower came in with Warrican and Jayden, and obviously there was a rollercoaster of emotions in terms of how to handle the situation.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that batting with the tail and being the leader so it was communication and we just kept it simple – defend your wicket and look to do it in singles. If we get the odd boundary here and there fine, but we just wanted to tick it off ten runs at a time.”
He added: “We knew once we got close to the score, Pakistan were going to panic and that’s when the runs were going to come.”
The victory halted a four-match winless run following their 2-0 thrashing at the hands of South Africa last June and their 0-0 draw in a similar series against Sri Lanka earlier in the year.
And Roach hailed the current group as one of the best in terms of camaraderie he had ever played with.
“This team is really together. Everyone has fun, everyone works hard. I think this is one of the best teams I’ve played in, in a West Indies group,” the Barbadian said.
“It’s just about communicating, executing and believing in yourself a little bit more, and I think this team has a lot more to give to the Caribbean in terms of wins and obviously fighting and competing against other teams.”
West Indies face Pakistan in the second and final Test starting on Friday.