Building on the successes of the previous series against Zimbabwe, and benefiting from generous slices of outrageous good fortune at crucial moments, West Indies narrowly turned back the threat of Pakistan to triumph 1-0 in the three-Test series. The one-wicket victory, earned amid heart-stopping drama and sensational controversy in Antigua on the final day of the tour, was a much-needed fillip for a team going through a period of rehabilitation in the wake of humiliating defeats away from home. Pakistan's expectations had been high when they won the Cable & Wireless triangular one-day tournament that preceded the Tests; instead, they became the latest touring team to leave the Caribbean agonising over lost opportunities.
For the new West Indies captain, Jimmy Adams, and their reconstituted team management, the rediscovery of a sense of determination and team spirit in the continued absence of Brian Lara was as important as the result. More than once, they wriggled out of tight spots as some of their talented young batsmen made vital contributions alongside the dour defiance of their captain. Wavell Hinds's aggregate of 340 runs - the highest by any batsman on either side - was an outstanding mark for the 23-year-old Jamaican. Less than eight months earlier, in one-day tournaments in Toronto and Sharjah, he had struggled to come to terms with the bowlers he now bludgeoned at Bridgetown on the way to his maiden Test hundred: the only century by a West Indian in the series. He made two half-centuries as well, including the top score of 63 in the final run-chase at St John's, and few questioned his nomination as Man of the Series.
Ramnaresh Sarwan, an elegant 19-year-old from the Essequibo region of Guyana, marked his Test debut with an unbeaten 84, while also providing a different challenge to bowlers accustomed to the array of left-handers in West Indies' batting order. Adams, the very antithesis of elegance, gave solidity to a vulnerable middle order and averaged more than 50 for the second consecutive series.
Pakistan, in the middle of a rebuilding programme themselves and haunted by the spectre of bribery and match-fixing, were buoyed by Yousuf Youhana's fluent centuries in the Second and Third Tests. Inzamam-ul-Haq furthered his already considerable reputation for reliability, making a hundred in the rain-ruined opener at Georgetown and two other scores over 50, and 18-year-old Imran Nazir displayed abundant gifts in his stroke-filled 131 at Bridgetown. Like so many of the batsmen on both sides, however, the young opener lacked the discipline to be consistently successful.
Domination of four of the game's greatest fast bowlers was always unlikely. In what was assumed to be their last home appearance together for West Indies, the veteran partnership of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose accounted for 25 Pakistani wickets. And if Waqar Younis could only occasionally produce the pace and hostility of old, Wasim Akram was a constant threat, although he left it until the final Test to stamp his mark on the rubber. Then he captured 11 wickets in a valiant effort to achieve Pakistan's first series win in five West Indian tours. Shoaib Akhtar's continuing problems with injury were a blow to Pakistan, as well as depriving the series of a great attraction. Spinners Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq offered variety, but at a price: their 14 wickets cost 43 each, in contrast to Mushtaq Ahmed's more economical 20 apiece in the one-day series.
With both Adams and Moin Khan ultra-cautious in their approach, much of the cricket lacked the intensity normally associated with these two teams. But the combination of umpiring errors, Pakistani panic and the West Indian captain's resolution on the final day put a memorable seal on an otherwise ordinary contest. It also allowed the West Indians to set off on their tour of England in better heart than seemed credible when they returned from New Zealand earlier in the year.
Match reports for
Sri Lanka Board XI v Pakistanis at Colombo (Police), Jun 10-11, 2000
Match reports for
Tour Match: West Indies Select XI v Pakistan at St John's, Apr 9, 2000
Tour Match: West Indies Under-23s v Pakistanis at West Demerara, Apr 27-30, 2000
Tour Match: West Indies A v Pakistanis at Bridgetown, May 12-15, 2000