Can Pakistan give Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan the farewell they deserve? That will be the central focus as the visitors take on West Indies in the third and final Test starting in Roseau on Wednesday (May 10).
The stage couldn’t have been set any better for the big game, with the series tied at 1-1. Pakistan won the first Test in Kingston quite comfortably by seven wickets but the hosts fought back in Bridgetown, stunning the visitors on the final day to seal an emphatic 106-run victory.
Having bowled Pakistan out for just 81 in the second innings of the second Test, West Indies will believe they have the momentum going into the decider.
But despite that all-too-familiar collapse, Pakistan will take confidence from the fact that they’ve had more contributors in the series so far. Barring Asad Shafiq, each of their top seven batsmen has scored at least a half-century, with Misbah making two 99s.
However, Pakistan will want their batsmen to kick on and make big scores, with Azhar Ali’s 105 in the first innings of the second Test as their highest individual score so far.
West Indies, on the other hand, have had to rely heavily on their lower order led by Roston Chase. Often walking in to a top-order collapse, Chase has had to play the role of rescuer but has done it to good effect and is leading the batting charts this series with 233 runs from four innings. That includes a half-century in the first Test after walking in at 53 for 4 and 131 in the next, where he came in at 37 for 3.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Vishaul Singh.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmad (wk), Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas.
Chase has found sporadic support from Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich, and Shai Hope too made a crucial 90 in the second innings in Bridgetown, but there has been little contribution from the remaining batsmen. West Indies will need to correct that as they can’t expect the lower order to bail them out every game.
The bowling has been dominated by the pace department for both sides, but Pakistan boast the better spin attack. Yasir Shah is the highest wicket-taker in the two games with 17 scalps to his name and now has an exciting understudy in Shadab Khan, the 18-year-old legspinner who made his debut in the second Test.
There is little to distinguish between the pace attacks of the two sides; Shannon Gabriel, fresh from a five-wicket haul that wrecked Pakistan last week, has been West Indies’ go-to bowler while Mohammad Amir has led Pakistan’s pace unit impressively.
It’s only fair that all eyes will be on Younis and Misbah when the final Test begins. Where Pakistan will head after their retirements is a question only time can answer, but for now, the focus will be on making their retirement game a memorable one. What better way to celebrate the duo than by recording Pakistan’s first-ever Test series win in the West Indies in eight attempts?