Devendra Bishoo’s magical spell gives West Indies hope

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As Day 4 commenced, not many could have envisaged West Indies ripping through the cream of Pakistan’s batting order to raise hopes of an unlikely win. However, on a frenetic day where 16 wickets fell, Devendra Bishoo weaved his magic on the opposition by bagging a eight-wicket haul to bundle out the hosts for a mere 123 and engineer a remarkable turnaround in the Day-night Test at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

At close of play on Sunday (October 16), the visitors were 95 for 2 in pursuit of 346. Darren Bravo (26 not out) and Marlon Samuels (4 not out) were at the crease after the visitors lost Kraigg Brathwaite and Leon Johnson.

As the track aided the spinners considerably on Day 4, Pakistan would still feel confident of taking eight wickets on the final day. However, Bishoo’s splendid performance would have helped the the tourists to lift themselves from the morass of defeatism.

For a side that was behind the eight-ball for most part of the Test, West Indies needed a spark of inspiration from somewhere. Initially, it was provided by Miguel Cummins. His compelling burst of short deliveries after the Tea break planted seeds of doubt in Babar Azam. The debutant, who played with calm countenance in the first innings, was unnerved by well-directed bumpers.

Azam, who had a couple of lucky breaks, was eventually cleaned up by Bishoo, but Cummins deserves some credit for that dismissal. Bishoo then took over by running through the heart of Pakistan’s middle-order to bag his third five-fer in Tests. He induced Sami Aslam (44) to edge one to Jemaine Blackwood at slip and followed it by sending Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz and Wahab Riaz back to the pavilion. The highlight of Bishoo’s spell came when with furious rotations of the ball, he shattered Nawaz’s stumps.

After the Dinner break, with inviting flight Bishoo lured Sarfraz Ahmed to skip down the track and Shane Dowrich effected the stumping. He laid down the marker on proceedings by knocking over the timber of Amir, with a delivery that turned venomously off the rough to finish with excellent figures of 8 for 49, the best haul by a legspinner after Anil Kumble’s perfect 10.

Earlier, Yasir Shah cast a spell of brilliance to pick up his seventh five-wicket haul in Test cricket as Pakistan skittled West Indies out for 357 to gain a substantial lead of 222 runs. For most part of the session, Yasir plugged away by blending control and considerable turn to pick up yet another five-wicket haul in the traditional format of the game. He also became the joint second-fastest to reach the milestone of 100 Test wickets, getting there in his 17th Test. George Lohmann, the metronomic medium pacer, who played from 1886 to 1896 took 16 Tests to reach the landmark.

With subtle variations of drift and turn, he kept the batsmen on their toes. A few deliveries fizzed through, some were bowled slower through the air. He also bowled from close to the stumps before preying on the batsman by pitching it from wide of the crease. A few deliveries bounced a touch and he also ushered in the slider and the occasional googly. It was a complete performance from the redoubtable spinner.

He started the day by nailing Shane Dowrich (32) with a well-flighted delivery. He tempted the wicketkeeper-batsman to lunge forward and trapped him in front. Just like Kraigg Brathwaite, the 24-year-old played down the wrong line. Dowrich took the review, but the HawkEye projected that the ball would knock over middle and leg-stump. Thus, he had to walk back to the pavilion with a forlorn look on his face.

Yasir followed it up removing Jason Holder (20) with a googly. It didn’t turn much and that perhaps further compounded the problem for the West Indies skipper and he could only hear the death rattle. Despite an unsuccessful review against Cummins for leg-before, Yasir didn’t have to wait for long to complete the landmark. Cummins, the No. 11 batsman, attempted to slog across the line and his stumps were knocked over. Yasir held his hands aloft to celebrate the achievement and also offered prayers to the almighty.

After gritting it out for a brief period, Bishoo (17) was dislodged by Nawaz as the hosts wrapped up the innings. Wickets continued to tumble in the session after Pakistan decided against enforcing the follow-on. Shannon Gabriel plucked the scalp of Pakistan’s star performer in the first innings – Azhar Ali. Bishoo dismissed Asad Shafiq (5) leg-before at the stroke of Tea and then went on to do more damage after the break as he finished with career-best figures.

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true,” Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India and also a renowned space scientist had once said. The young West Indies team would certainly dream of pulling a jailbreak on the final day.

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