TEST: Series at stake as Misbah, Younis make last bow
Conventional wisdom, and much of the second Test, suggested that Pakistan would have wrapped up the series by this stage, and the mood around Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan’s retirements would have reached peak crescendo. However, Pakistan crumbled in a tame surrender in Bridgetown on the fifth day, and West Indies levelled the series. As such, it is a different narrative that grips Dominica: can Pakistan finally win a Test series in the Caribbean?
West Indies are basking in the glow of one of their sweetest wins in the recent past, coming back repeatedly to overpower, and ultimately blow away, a team many expected to be too strong for them. Shannon Gabriel ripped through Pakistan on the final day. Several West Indies batsmen also made contributions under pressure, and they have now won two of their last three Tests against Pakistan.
However, no one knows which West Indies side will turn up at Windsor Park. Pakistan will be well aware of that if they’ve finally recovered from the sucker-punch of what happened on the final day at the Kensington Oval. Mickey Arthur’s side, however, largely dominated the second Test, and were just a cracked pitch and frayed nerves away from taking an unassailable lead.
In the spotlight
After more than three years out of the Test side, Devendra Bishoo cannot complain about not being granted an extended run. What will concern West Indies is that the leg-spinner hasn’t evolved much. Being sidelined in favour of Sunil Narine and Shane Shillingford wouldn’t have helped, but a bowler of Bishoo’s calibre should not look for justifications; he should look for wickets. With only five wickets at an average of 48.20 this series, Bishoo will be hungry to make amends.
Take a guess? With Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq walking out for a Test for the last time in their careers, that subplot is likely to be seared across the history of this Test for decades. With the spotlight on their contributions, class, and legacy, and the opposition possibly preparing guards of honour when they come out to bat, players with a flair for showmanship might find themselves distracted. Misbah and Younis aren’t such players, but all eyes will be on them nonetheless.
West Indies’ squad is unchanged from the side that guided them to the euphoria of the win in Bridgetown, and are unlikely to change that combination.
West Indies (possible): 1 Kieran Powell, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Shimron Hetmyer, 4 Shai Hope (wk), 5 Roston Chase, 6 Vishaul Singh, 7 Shane Dowrich, 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Shannon Gabriel.
Pakistan made the brave call of giving Shadab Khan a debut in the second Test. With one wicket for 145 across two innings, the Shadab’s debut wasn’t as electric as his maiden outings in the limited-overs formats. Misbah might prefer to go back to his tried and tested formula, of three seamers and Yasir Shah.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Azhar Ali, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Mohammad Abbas, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Yasir Shah (ESPNCricinfo).