Jason Holder, West Indies captain, has put the onus on his batsmen to get the second innings runs even as the Barbados Test is setting up towards a thrilling finale. Azhar Ali (105) scored his 13th Test hundred while Misbah-ul-Haq (99) missed out on a century once again as Pakistan finished their first innings at 393, an overall lead of 81 runs.
On a pitch that’s becoming increasingly difficult to bat, the hosts lost Kieran Powell (6) early in their second dig, but Kraigg Brathwaite (8*) and Shimron Hetmyer (22*) held on to finish the day at 40 for 1, still trailing by 41 runs.
The West Indies captain, after the end of the day’s play, said that the ‘first hour on Day 4’ will be very crucial in determining the outcome of this Test. “We’ve obviously got to make use of the first hour,” the skipper said on Tuesday (May 2). “Similar to what Pakistan did to us today, we’ve got to do to them tomorrow morning: make sure we see off that first hour and it’s important that (Shimron) Hetmyer and Kraigg (Brathwaite) do that for us and make sure they solidify the innings, set it up nicely for us in the back end,” he added.
Still smarting after their diabolical second innings batting effort which cost them the Jamaica Test, Holder asked his batsmen to fight hard and expected it to further deteriorate as the Test moved ahead. “I believe it’s a tough pitch to score on. Most batsmen that made runs on the pitch had to graft and really fight hard for their runs so I don’t think it’s going to change much. The pitch may probably deteriorate a little bit more and become difficult to score.”
The hosts, who are 0-1 down in the three-match Test series, finished Day 3 at 40 for 1, still 41 adrift of Pakistan’s 81-run first innings lead and the captain felt that erasing the deficit was the first concern. “The first priority is to get a lead, put some runs on the board for Pakistan to chase,” he noted. “But first we’ve got to set it up in the morning. We’ve got to make use of that first session. It’s important that Kraigg and Hetmyer carry it for us as far down as possible and if one of the top four batsmen can get a hundred that will put us in good stead.
“What we’ve got to do is take our scoring options as they come. You have to graft. The pitch is not a free-scoring surface that you can come in and play strokes so any opportunity we get to put the ball away, we must maximise that and make use of every bad ball,” Holder added.
Pakistan opted to play two proper legspinners and the 25-year old Barbadian felt that the spinners would come into play on a surface that’s extremely helpful for them. “They rely heavily on the two spinners and we expect that. There’s a lot of rough there especially for the left-handers so they have to be extra cautious playing out of the rough but [each batsman needs to] come up with a pretty decent game plan and look to capitalize on any bad balls that are presented,” the West Indies captain said.
Making his assessment of the conditions, Holder reckoned that anything around 175 would be a decent target to defend. “The way the pitch is playing and if it deteriorates a little bit more, probably anything in excess of 175 would be good for us and give ourselves chance and time to bowl Pakistan out,” he concluded.