Dubai: Darren Bravo through a fighting knock of 116 runs almost pulled West Indies to the doors of victory, but Pakistan snatched an exciting 56-runs win in the first Test at the Dubai International Stadium.
It was a dramatic end to the first day-night Test match in UAE with the pink ball.
When 26 overs were left and West Indies needed 83 to win, Pakistan's leg spinner Yasir Shah pulled off a brilliant return catch, flying like a bird to his left to dismiss Bravo.
His knock withstanding 249 balls contained ten boundaries and a six.
Bravo had added 69 runs in 23.4 overs for the seventh wicket with his skipper Jason Holder and, at that stage, it was anybody’s game. Holder remained unconquered with an unbeaten 40.
Pakistan bowlers Mohammad Amir with three wickets and Mohammad Nawaz and Yasir Shah with two wickets each ensured the victory with only 12 overs left in the match.
A fantastic player of spin, it was Bravo’s eight century. Interestingly five of his centuries have been scored in the subcontinent and he has scored only one century in West Indies.
West Indies began the day hoping to score the 251 runs needed to win the match. Pakistan began with their hunt for the remaining eight wickets that would make them the winners. They had already taken two wickets before close on the fourth day.
The day’s action got off to a sensational start with Mohammad Amir dismissing Marlon Samuels to the first ball of the day for four. It was a beauty of a delivery that angled from the good length forcing Samuels to edge to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmad.
Jermaine Blackwood and Darren Bravo could add 21 runs before Mohammad Nawaz struck to remove Blackwood. Nawaz’s quicker delivery struck Blackwood pads and Pakistan won a favourable leg before decision through a review.
Bravo refused to go for the big shots. His first boundary of the fifth day came only in the 49th over. Playing out 139 balls he reached his second successive fifty of the match in the 60th over.
Roston Chase too batted comfortably till when one hour was left for dinner, Shah produced a beauty to end Chase’s determined stay at the wicket. The delivery landed on the rough and hit the leg stump.
Chase and Bravo had added 77 runs and withstood the Pakistan attack for 28.2 overs.
Five more wickets needed to win, Pakistan went for the kill. Pacer Wahab Riaz, bowling his heart out, produced a sizzling yorker to dismiss next man Shane Dowrich for a duck.
Two wickets in a span of three balls lit up hopes of Pakistan victory. Dowrich had hit 32 runs in the first innings and hence it was a prize wicket.
Pakistan mounted pressure on the well set Bravo too. They even challenged umpire Paul Reiffel’s decision of not out to a caught behind against Bravo off Shah. With the huge mantle of holding on till close, Holder joined Bravo.
Despite the pressure, Bravo picked a boundary down the leg side off Wahab and moved into his nineties.
Pakistan skipper Misbah rested Riaz and introduced left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. He also brought in the fielders, especially against new batsman Holder. Shah teased Holder with tempting deliveries and Holder refused to block it and went for his shots.
Pakistan took the second new ball right away in the 80th over and Bravo sliced a drive in the air off the first delivery from Amir to reach his century. The shot he played was elegantly placed past a diving backward point. He thus became the second player after Azhar Ali to score a century in day-night cricket.
Misbah, standing at mid-off, egged his bowlers to go full out. Sohail Khan too generated excellent pace off the wicket. Amir too was instructed to go full out and the battle between ball and bat was a treat to watch.
Bravo’s judgement of leaving the ball and defensive shots were brilliant. His concentration amidst mounting pressure was impeccable.