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Comment: Bad pitch yes but batting was even worse

Updated May 06, 2017

Once again Pakistan failed to win a Test at the Kensington Oval in Barbados as they squandered their opportunity through undisciplined batting in chase of a target which was not beyond them.

It was very similar to the 1976-77 series when our bowlers failed to dislodge the tail-enders Colin Croft, Andy Roberts and Joel Garner.

Similarly, in the 1987-88 Test when their effort was thwarted by David Archer, a local umpire who was blatantly disrespectful of his status in the middle.

The farthest of islands in the east, this 21 miles long and 14 miles wide stretch of land in the Caribbean has thus far has not been a happy hunting place for Pakistan.

Tiny as it is in size, it boasts famous names like George Challenor, John Goddard, the three Ws (Walcott, Weekes and Worrell), Sir Garfield Sobers, Conrad Hunte, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and, of course, Wesley Hall, Charlie Griffith, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner to name a few.

When once I asked the doyen of cricket writers and commentators Tony Cozier, a white settler of the island, he jokingly told me that ‘We bought best quality of slaves’.

From the first Test between the two countries to now there have been heartbreaks and disappointments for Pakistan and this defeat is not any different.

On a worn out pitch, Pakistan’s task was difficult no doubt but not impossible if they had applied themselves with a lot more determined approach as did the West Indian bowlers who were able to exploit the conditions to their advantage.

It is true that no Asian team has ever won a Test in Barbados. India, too, in 1997 were all out for 81 while chasing 120 odd for victory as Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose shattered them.

In 1988, Imran Khan’s men were deprived of victory by biased home umpiring, spearheaded by Archer who owned a bar and a café outside the ground. He was always a bit high and one could smell alcohol from a distance if Archer was around.

The West Indies needed 61 more runs to win with eight wickets down when Geoff Dujon and Winston Benjamin, favoured by Archer, won the Test for Viv Richards to draw the series 1-1.

Dujon was cleanly caught off Abdul Qadir as he arrived to bat by Mudassar at short leg but Archer stood motionless knowing what he has done to save his team and also declined a LBW appeal off the leg-spinner in fear that if he gave them out the bar that he owned would be set on fire outside the ground.

Infuriated Qadir after being deprived of wickets had walked back in anger to long leg region hurled punch at a heckler after being traunted with abusive language, right in front of where I was sitting in the open press box next to the three Ws stand.

The incident before the match was over resulted in a summon by Albert Auguste the accuser for Qadir to appear in a court for assaulting him. Within four hours Pakistan was to fly to London at the end of the tour. The magistrate advised Qadir to settle out of court because if he had to defend then he will have to stay for two weeks in the island.

Out of court settlement cost Pakistan board $1000. Loss of a Test and a big sum of money was not what Pakistan tourists had asked for. No such incident this time but Pakistan can only blame themselves for the disaster.

It was here in Barbados in 1988 that I came across a former West Indian wicket-keeper David Murray who was begging in the streets of Barbados having spent his life savings from Packer WSC and all the money he earned by playing for his country on drugs and cocaine. Not a pleasant experience to see a cricketer begging for living.

Now Misbah-ul-Haq and his men will have to lift themselves up for the third and final decisive Test at Dominica in the Windward Island to achieve what they have not earlier tours that is to win a series for the first time.

To go in the Test with only four bowlers was a huge blunder especially when Shadab Khan a debutant included in hope of a miracle. He will no doubt learn from his mistakes..

Pakistan will have to shrug off their setback in the second Test to assert their presence with a lot more authority to achieve which they haven’t yet.

Misbah and Younis Khan’s swansong need to be memorable and that is what we all expect.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2017