Waqar Younis ‘proud’ of Pakistan bowling unit for creating chances despite loss

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Bowling coach rues dropped catches but felt the team ‘put in all the hard work and responded well’ in the match

Pakistan might have ended up losing at Sabina Park on Sunday but bowling coach Waqar Younis said he is “proud” of the bowling unit that kept creating opportunities in a low-scoring Test.
The match, which had one of the most thrilling finishes in recent times, was just the 15th instance of a one-wicket win in Test history. The visitors had taken some extraordinary catches but had dropped several crucial ones too – they dropped three in the final session, two of which involved Kemar Roach who later went on score the winning runs.

“There was no better Test match than this to advocate Test cricket,” Waqar said in a virtual press conference. “Unfortunately we were on the wrong side as we should have won the game. But that’s the way it is.. one team had to lose and unfortunately it was us, and of course, it happens only when you commit mistakes and [dropped] catches played the big part. When you miss so many opportunities in such tense moments then that will definitely hurt you.

“But overall if you analyse the bowling I must say all the bowlers bowled really well throughout the Test match. Despite the small target, they put in all the hard work, responded well, the way they fought in the game, and never let it go easily. Bowlers are meant to create opportunities. Yes, West Indies were 114 for 7 but then after that, there were three opportunities as well and if you are not grabbing them it won’t help you. They kept on taking wickets and creating opportunities so with all this I feel very proud of this bowling unit.”

Pakistan were originally scheduled to play three Tests but both boards reworked the series to play two extra T20Is instead. This tour has been affected by rain right from the start, with three out of four T20Is washed out. The first Test was disrupted by rain too but the overcast conditions allowed fast bowlers to dictate terms.

The second Test starts from August 20 at the same venue. Waqar wasn’t too optimistic about the weather but he expects help for the fast bowlers once again.

“There was a lot of support especially for fast bowlers,” he said about the first Test. ” Ball was seaming, conditions were overcast at times and it wasn’t easy for batting. Bowler had more say on it hence it was a low-scoring Test match. One has to apply himself on such pitches and has to be positive as a bowler and as a batter.

“Sometimes you have to take risks to score runs and whoever scored runs was taking risks to build up the board. So with the new ball, you have to remain positive, and going forward if the conditions remain the same it won’t be easy for batters. There was bounce and I don’t know what we will get in the next game and it’s hard to tell but looking around from the first Test expect grass on the pitch. The ball will seam around and expect us to play with the same spirit.”

Waqar added that the experienced Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah were match-winners and have done well to stay relevant. Abbas picked up three wickets in the first innings with the new ball and though his tally dried up with the older one, he kept the scoring rate in check, giving away only 1.95 runs per over.

“Abbas – I thought he bowled beautifully,” Waqar said. “On some days in cricket – especially in Test cricket – luck isn’t with you. Otherwise, the way he was bowling he should have taken a lot more wickets. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the edges and that’s part of the game. But I have no doubt that Abbas is a wonderful professional with the sort of effort he puts in but he was bowling great though the wickets tally isn’t what we were expecting.

“Yasir’s track record against West Indies is great. He overall has 250 wickets and has tons of experience with him. His past performance is very good and he is a match-winner and you can’t really ignore him. Sometimes the pitch isn’t conducive enough for spinners in fact both sides haven’t got enough for spinners. Nauman Ali is a wonderful cricketer but the pitch wasn’t supporting a fingerspinner”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent