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Series jinx continues as West Indies crumble

August 25, 2021

Irrepressible left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi claimed a 10-wicket match haul as West Indies failed to break their 21-year-long jinx of having not beaten Pakistan in a series, by slumping to a 109-run defeat in the second Test in Jamaica on Tuesday.

Entering the final day at Sabina Park requiring a further 280 runs for victory but more importantly, needing to survive 98 overs, West Indies accomplished neither, collapsing for 219 in their second innings, late in the session to suffer their third defeat in four Tests.

All-rounder Jason Holder resisted with a fluent 47, captain Kraigg Brathwaite produced a typically stubborn 39 while left-hander Kyle Mayers got off the mark for the first time for the series with a positive 32.

And even though vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood chipped in with 25, no batsman passed fifty for the second straight innings, as West Indies lost wickets in clusters during all three sessions.

The 21-year-old Afridi was outstanding, picking four for 43 to end with match figures of ten for 94 while left-arm spinner Nauman Ali finished with three for 52 and fast bowler Hasan Ali, two for 37.

With the result, the two-match series finished in a 1-1 stalemate, following the home side’s dramatic one-wicket victory here last week.

“I still think it is a positive because obviously we didn’t lose the series so that was still good,” Brathwaite said afterwards.

“I thought the team did a superb job in the first Test and obviously we let ourselves down in the first innings of this Test match. The first innings total let us down and then we were behind the eight-ball from the start.

“Consistency is what we need and I think it is a mindset. Test cricket is never easy. All the guys can bat but the quicker we get to that strong mentality as batsmen will be key for us.”

For Pakistan, it was their 11th Test victory over West Indies in their last 20 meetings, with the hosts winning just six, and captain Babar Azam said he was pleased with the outcome.

“It was a very important win for us as we lost the first match, and the way we have played … thanks to the Almighty we have won this match,” Babar said through a translator.

“The partnership [in the first innings] with Fawad Alam that really helped us and of course that exceptional spell by Shaheen Shah Afridi made things easier for us.”

Resuming the morning on 49 for one with the target of 329 of academic interest only, West Indies were set back in the fifth over when nightwatchman Alzarri Joseph (17) top-edged a pull at Afridi after adding nine, and skied a simple catch to wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan at 65 for two.

Joseph was one of three wickets to fall in quick succession for only eight runs as Hasan Ali picked off Nkrumah Bonner (2) and Roston Chase (0) cheaply.

Bonner played down the wrong line to one that swung back and was lbw on review while Chase dithered 15 balls before edging to third slip where Imran Butt snared a brilliant catch diving to his right.

Blackwood arrived to punch three fours in a 54-ball knock, helping to revive West Indies in a 28-run, fifth wicket stand with Brathwaite.

The pair appeared set to take West Indies to lunch safely when Blackwood edged a defensive prod at Nauman Ali to fall to a catch at the wicket, 17 minutes before the interval.

On 113 for five at the break, West Indies lost Brathwaite in the second over following the resumption before he had added, failing to keep down a cut and providing Fawad Alam with a regulation catch at point.

Resuming the morning on 17, Brathwaite faced 147 balls in just under 4-¼ hours and counted five fours.

Mayers, with three ‘ducks’ in the series, then combined with Holder in a 46-run, seventh wicket stand to repair the damage and temporarily halt the visitors’ victory bid.

While Mayers hit five fours off 53 deliveries, Holder struck five fours and two sixes off 83 balls, both opting to attack Pakistan’s bowlers despite the pressure.

Rain clouds were building when Afridi returned in the first over of a new spell to remove Mayers with the third ball after the drinks break, caught behind driving, 70 minutes after lunch.

A rain break then threatened to deny Pakistan victory, forcing an early interval and keeping players off the field for 55 minutes.

When play resumed, West Indies still needed to survive over two hours and Holder joined with Joshua Da Silva (15) to put on 40 for the eighth wicket, to keep West Indies’ faint hopes alive.

Holder was marching untroubled towards his 12th Test fifty when he drove loosely at Nauman and gifted Fawad a low catch at cover at 199 for eight.

And with the second new ball taken, the end came swiftly as Afridi fittingly pinned Kemar Roach lbw for seven before having Da Silva caught at mid on.

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