West Indies captain Jason Holder has praised the focus and commitment of his embattled side following their crushing win over Pakistan today, and has urged them to maintain the intensity heading into next week’s decisive Test at Windsor Park.
Entering the Kensington Oval contest on the back of a seven-wicket defeat in the opening Test at Sabina Park two weeks ago, West Indies turned the tables on Pakistan to level the three-match series with a 106-win on the final day here.
“We had to win the game to keep the series alive. Everybody knew what was at stake and we wanted to win the game,” Holder told a media conference after the victory.
“We wanted to win the series and start making strides in the right direction, so everybody knew the importance of the game and it was all about giving a big effort. I told the guys to leave everything out on the park.
“We highlighted a few areas before this game that we wanted to touch on and I feel as though we have really touched them and hit them. It’s just a matter of being consistent and carrying it into Dominica, which will be very crucial.
“The series is wide open and we have the perfect opportunity to win the series.”
Resuming the day on 264 for nine, West Indies added four runs before they were dismissed for 268 off the fifth delivery of the morning.
But set what appeared to be a straightforward 188 for victory, Pakistan crashed to 81 all out – equaling the lowest-ever total at Kensington Oval and their second lowest against West Indies.
The hosts were spearheaded by fast bowler Shannon Gabriel who was superb with five for 11 while Holder claimed three for 23 and fellow seamer Alzarri Joseph, two for 42.
Holder said preparation and execution had been the vital keys to winning the encounter.
“It feels really good. It just shows what hard work can do. I think the guys put in a really good effort in the preparation leading up to this game,” he explained.
“We took it to the end. We set out some plans in the dressing room and I think we went out and executed them so credit must go to everybody, especially to the fast bowlers who just kept running in.
“I think our first innings total was really, really crucial and then backed up by a solid second innings total on a difficult pitch. I think it’s an outstanding team effort.”
The victory was Holder’s second in 14 games as captain, following his success in the final game of the three-match series in Sharjah in United Arab Emirates last November.
His all-round contributions were also key in winning the game here, taking six wickets and striking a half-century, and the 25-year-old said he was focused on performing his role for the team.
“For me, I’ll just continue do what I have to for his team,” he stressed. “If I need to make runs for the team or if I need to come in and get some wickets, I just put up my hand and try to do it.
“I back myself and I back my ability. I’ve gotten here doing something well so I’ll just continue to do it. Whatever the team ask me to do I’ll put up my hand and do it.”
Holder praised the effort of Shai Hope in the second innings whose 90 was crucial in the target that the West Indies eventually set the Pakistanis.
“It was a collective team effort. We got runs in the first innings which I felt was crucial, and we were able to back it up with a solid second innings performance on that kind of pitch. I think credit must go to Shai Hope, and obviously our bowling department was outstanding the entire game.
“We felt if we could give them anything in excess of 170, we were in with a really good chance on a day-five pitch. It was all about being patient, we needed to hit our lengths, and use our cutters, cross-seam deliveries, anything that would give us assistance of the wicket. We dropped one or two chances, an area we need to improve on, but it was still a strong collective team effort.”
Holder’s only regret was Hope missing out on a maiden Test century. “His innings was outstanding. He likes batting here; I think he has two double centuries at this ground. And it’s good he came here, playing his second Test match here, and went on to score a half-century. Unfortunately he didn’t go on to score a hundred, I felt he deserved it, but that’s the way cricket goes. But I felt his innings was really crucial. He was patient and selective. He played on merit and was able to get a good score for us.”
Misbah, for his part, refused to play up the troubles of chasing on a crumbling surface. “You can easily say that it’s about batting on a day-five pitch. But after getting them 150-odd for 6 in the first innings and letting them score 300-plus, we let it slip. Then, we were in control batting at 316 for 4, but could only manage a lead of 81. I think that made a huge difference, and we all knew even on the first day that it’s [the pitch] going to get worse.
“So if we had managed a bigger lead in the first innings that could have made a difference. On the last day, all credit to the West Indian bowlers, they hit their lines, they bowled their heart out, and we really had no answers.”