As the incessant rain rendered any cricket impossible on day two of the second Test between the West Indies and Pakistan, a result looked hugely unlikely, the West Indies all but granted a 1-0 series victory as time was sapped from the game. Fast forward to the end of day four and all three outcomes are possible, thanks to the positivity of Pakistan and brilliance of their left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi.
It is often forgotten that Shaheen is still 21 years of age. He has already played just under 20 Test matches, and in this most recent one he brought up his best ever figures of 6-51, dismissing the hosts for 150. His aggression with the ball was partnered by the typical discipline of Mohammad Abbas, who took 3-44, and encapsulated a wonderful Pakistan performance up to this point.
The tourists have helped put on yet another exemplary advert for Test cricket, refusing to be deterred by the weather and relentlessly seeking a result. They declared at 302/9 in their first innings to have a late dart at the Windies’ top order, taking three wickets with them at the close. They produced the aforementioned brilliant bowling performance to earn a lead of 152 and then set about keeping their foot firmly on the home team’s neck.
They began their second innings as if it were a T20, reaching 70-0 by the nine-over mark. They eventually declared at 176/6 thanks to the enterprising thirties of Imran butt and Babar Azam. That, again, gave them just under 20 overs to chip away at the West Indies, who batted resolutely through Kraigg Brathwaite and nightwatchman Alzarri Joseph, ending the day 49/1.
Chasing 329, the Men in Maroon require another 280 runs for victory. The nine wickets required by Pakistan make them clear favourites, but anything can happen in this great game. With the World Test Championship giving more context to each and every Test match, the unrelenting refusal to settle for a draw from Pakistan at Sabina Park and similarly positive performances in the future will render it, and the future of the longest format, an enthralling success.