A time to rejoice – Windies brush aside Pakistan to end winless run

first_imgSHARJAH, UAE, CMC: West Indies halted their luckless run when they convincingly beat Pakistan by five wickets in the third and final Test here yesterday to record their first Test victory in 19 months and end an otherwise nightmarish tour on a celebratory note. The Caribbean side needed just over half-hour in the morning session on the final day to complete a successful chase of their modest target of 153, as opener Kraigg Brathwaite and wicketkeeper/ batsman Shane Dowrich stroked unbeaten half-centuries to end a run of eight successive losses on the tour stretching back to the Twenty20 and one-day series last month. West Indies had not won a Test since beating England in Bridgetown in May last year, and Thursday’s victory marked only their second in 17 matches and first on foreign soil in four years. Significantly, it was the visitors’ first away win over a higher-ranked side in almost 10 years and was also Jason Holder’s first success as captain since taking over the helm in August last year. “It is an extremely important [victory], especially after the Dubai Test match when many people thought we could have won the game. We personally felt we could have won the game, but we didn’t get across the line,” Holder told reporters afterwards. “To come here in this last Test match, putting ourselves in a position to win and actually getting across the line is a huge monkey off the back. It’s a great feeling and it just shows we have the ability to win Test matches. it’s just about stringing together a complete game.” CONFIDENT KNOCKS SCOREBOARD Resuming a tense day at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on 114 for five, still requiring a further 39 for victory, West Indies showed little signs of nerves as Man of the Match Brathwaite and Dowrich produced confident knocks to extend their unbroken sixth-wicket stand to 87 and erase any thoughts of a defeat. Brathwaite, unbeaten on 44 overnight, finished on 60 not out in an innings requiring 109 deliveries, 201 minutes and including six fours, while Dowrich, on 36 at the start, also marched his way to an enterprising unbeaten 60 off 87 balls, with seven fours and a six. Any early jitters were quickly dispelled when Brathwaite punched the first ball of the day from left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz to the cover boundary, and he brought up his 12th Test half-century four balls later with a couple to deep point, to follow up his unbeaten hundred in the first innings. Dowrich also showed his intent in the next over when he pulled leg-spinner Yasir Shah to the square boundary to move into the 40s, and the 25-year-old raised his fourth Test fifty in only his eighth game with a delightful cover drive off Wahab in the seventh over of the morning. In the next over, Dowrich smashed a short ball from seamer Mohammed Amir through square for four and raised victory for West Indies with a boundary to third man a few deliveries later. West Indies, however, had already surrendered the series following defeats in the first Test in Dubai and the second one in Abu Dhabi. And despite yesterday’s success, they have now gone two years without a Test series win. PAKISTAN 1st Innings 281 WEST INDIES 1st Innings 337 PAKISTAN 2nd Innings 208 WEST INDIES 2nd Innings (target: 153 runs) (overnight 114 for five) K. Brathwaite not out 60 +S Dowrich not out 60 Extras (lb2, nb1) 3 TOTAL (5 wkts, 43.5 overs) 114 Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-35, 3-57, 4-63, 5-67. Bowling: Mohammad Amir 9.5-0-43-0 (nb1), Wahab Riaz 12-0-46-2, Yasir Shah 15-4-40-3, Zulfiqar Babar 3-1-3-0, Mohammed Nawaz 4-0-20-0. Result: West Indies won by five wickets. Man-of-the-Match: Kraigg Brathwaite. Man-of-the-Series: Yasir Shah. Toss: Pakistan. Umpires: M Gough, P Reiffel; TV – R Illingworth. MORE CRICKET ON B3last_img read more

Stoke for the top four? Mark Hughes certainly thinks so…

first_img Mark Hughes The unpredictable nature of this year’s Barclays Premier League means Mark Hughes is adjusting Stoke’s targets this season, with a top-four finish now not out of the question.Hughes’ side face league leaders Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday currently occupying seventh spot and they are only four points off Tottenham, who sit in the final qualifying berth for a place in next year’s Champions League.With Leicester, West Ham and Crystal Palace all also in touching distance of one of those four spots, England could be represented by a surprise team in Europe’s premier competition next season.And while such a feat seemed improbable before the start of the campaign, Hughes is beginning to think a historic season might be possible for Stoke.“It wasn’t what we were aiming for at the beginning of the season but, as the season progresses and the league takes shape, your realistic targets change,” the Welshman said when asked if a top-four finish was achievable.“It’s fair to say we’ve changed our targets in terms of what we think we can achieve this year. I’m not necessarily saying we’re going for the Champions League at all, but you never know? It’s one of those seasons. We could get to a point in March, April where we’re very much in the mix and we’ll have a go.“For our part, we’re really pleased where we find ourselves at the moment, it’s higher than we anticipated before the beginning of the season.“At the end of the season we hope we can look back and pat ourselves on the back by virtue of the fact we’ve beaten our previous total over the last two seasons. If we do that, it’s fair to say we’re progressing.”The Potters are yet to wade into the January transfer window and Hughes is happy with the strength of a squad that is still competing in both the FA Cup and Capital One Cup.That is why if he does make an acquisition to bolster a Champions League charge this month, it will likely be a marquee name to rival the likes of previous recruits Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri.“I think it’s fair to say that,” Hughes noted.“The squad is strong, we’ve proved over the last couple of years that the depth that we have should be able to maintain us. It certainly did last year and it’s looking like it will again this year.“If we’re going to improve then we need to get those players that can make a difference. It’s key players who can make a difference, those are the ones we’re looking for.”Switzerland international Shaqiri will not face Arsene Wenger’s Gunners after suffering a hamstring injury while Geoff Cameron is highly unlikely to return because of an ankle problem. 1last_img read more