“Got ‘iiiiiiiim !! Why did he do that?”
On 14th May, 2017, at the end of the third and final Dominica Test of the 2017 series, the iconic words of an excellent commentator Fazeer Mohammad on West Indian radio floats into the ears of all the listeners.
The drama of the 6-hours went for a toss:
The camera found the West Indian coach Stuart Law with both of his hands on his head staring at the support staffs without showing any reaction. The rest of the group hadn’t showed any feedback either. Roston Chase, after fighting for almost 6-hours, was standing on the wrong side seemingly showing his anger on himself for denying a single couple of balls back.
Different scenes at the end of the Test:
The contrasting scenes of all the Pakistani players, their fans both in the ground or back home might be spelling out their luck in his case. From Yasir Shah’s diving on the ground to swim around the green grasses or Younis’s joy of taking stumps off, to the other players following them to gift their captain and most experienced player a glorious send-off; the camera had moved to almost all the corners of the field.
At last, we found the man responsible for all the dramas, Shannon Gabriel, having a hand-shake with his partner and opponents. Their next morning could see him getting thrashed by the allegations of match-fixing or different descriptions of his shot in the newspaper. A few months later, the wisden.com labelled it the worst shot ever played in the history of Test Cricket.
Pakistan posted a huge total but on slower note:
Let’s rewind from the beginning. On a bright sunny morning, Pakistan Captain, Misbah-ul-Haq on his appointment, winning the toss, opted to bat first on a pitch where Yasir Shah could play his magic going forward. Sheltering on the shoulders of a hard fought hundred by opener Azhar Ali and few fifties from his teammates, the visitors reached 376 at a run rate of just over 2.50.
The Island took the most defensive rate with an aim of eating time in the game which was receiving threats of rain in the last two days. After playing almost four sessions, they could only reach 276 with only Chase smashing fifty whereas rest of the players just was knocking the ball around the field at a strike rate of 35 or so.
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) May 14, 2017
Now, it’s totally the game for the touring party to run it a decent pace. Also, Misbah had to keep an eye on the bowling figures of his pacers and prime spinner; Yasir had bowled 40-overs whereas both the pacers had run for 20-25 overs in those humid conditions. The sensible and discipline bowling of Holder & co. restricted them at 174/8 when the declaration kept the equation before West Indies of either scoring 304 or negotiate 97-overs of batting.
During the 3rd innings, the ball wasn’t coming into the bat nicely, it was keeping a bit low to pass Yasir a great interest of bowling long spells. Leaving the man of the first innings, no West Indian could stand out on his performance. Devendra Bishoo along with Alzarri Joseph blocked most of the deliveries. When most of the job was done, the last job Shannon Gabriel strolled down to the middle.
The number 11, Shannon Gabriel walked out to bat:
I can assure you most of the home viewers had zero hope on their number 11 and rightly so, it was not meant to be his job; In a pitch where his batsmen-mate couldn’t deliver any answer, it would be nice joke to expect something extra-ordinary from him against the opposition attack. But Test Cricket verifies all your abilities. 21-balls had been faced with a solitary boundary being hit off his bat; the last ball of Yasir Shah, the highest wicket-taker of the series, was to bowl his final delivery of the tour.
Look at the field; Slip, Gully, two silly points, short-cover, silly mid-off, silly mid-on, leg-gully, forward short-leg, 10 catchers including the wicket-keeper was waiting before Shannon just waiting for a light mistake. Even a mishit could have fallen into no men’s land. The scenario wasn’t ideal for a pure tail-ender after saving himself from a close LBW appeal thanks to the DRS two balls earlier.
Two years ago today, Pakistan won their first ever Test series in the West Indies after a thriller in Dominica. I wrote about it in Wisden.
Tour report: https://t.co/35dTzNEYyu
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) May 14, 2019
The huge swing of the willow:
The moments with obvious reason attracted so many thoughts and the man from Trinidad was no different. He saw a leg-break from Shah coming to his way and just swing his willow wildly to watch the round-shape object hitting the stumps after one bounce. And the iconic words blew away.
Unfortunately, this clip will be played on loop most of the times with the comments but hardly one would think of making a vast look at the picture. “Well, Shannon will learn. Hopefully if he gets into a situation like that, he’ll choose a better shot”. Delivered Man of the Match, Roston Chase. “Can’t blame him.”
Nonetheless, after 4-years Pakistan has been supposed to tour the Caribbean again and the recent post of West Indies Cricket board of Gabriel’s batting practice somewhere in Trinidad might point an interesting pic of the future. The Test matches, to be played in Jamaica, is eagerly waiting for Yasir vs Gabriel again.
Pakistan: 376 (Azhar Ali- 127) and 174/8 dec (Alzarri Joseph- 3-53) beats West Indies: 247 (Mohammad Abbas- 5-46) & 202 (Roston Chase- 101*) by 101runs.