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EDITORIAL – Sammy and team worthy of our praise

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EDITORIAL – Sammy and team worthy of our praise

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DARREN SAMMY AND TEAM stunned West Indies cricket supporters yesterday as much as they did the touring Pakistanis.
Resigned to accepting West Indies failure with the killer instinct, cricket fans had grudgingly grown accustomed over the years to seeing their side snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We were eased of this enduring agony when the first Test between West Indies and Pakistan ended at Providence in Guyana yesterday afternoon.
And surprise of surprises, it would be Sammy who would rip through the Pakistani tail to provide the West Indies with their first Test win in over two years. In a low-score match, West Indies would triumph, as a mostly uncertain Pakistan fell 41 runs short of their victory target.
Sammy, whose captaincy, in general, and individual performance, in particular, have come under heavy fire, led the way in the attack, he himself taking five wickets for 29, giving West Indies their first Test victory since beating a rusty England in Kingston in February, 2009. Sammy may have shut the mouths of his critics – at least until Friday when the second Test starts at Warner Park in St Kitts & Nevis.
West Indies would require only nine overs after lunch to take the remaining four wickets, a scenario not associated of late with the boys in maroon, but welcomed nonetheless by every Caribbean cricket fan who was glued to the television set or radio – sometimes with their hearts in their hands.
Let’s not forget the easily irritated Ravi Rampaul; he frowns markedly on dropped catches. At an average speed of 90 miles per hour he took one fewer wicket than Sammy.
Rampaul, who has got some flak for not being as productive as he could be, would soon put to a close Abdur Rehman’s rather guarded innings that only garnered six, the last of Rampaul’s four scalps at the price of 48 runs. One over later, it seemed, the Pakistanis would be struggling on 163 for eight with Umar Gul trapped lbw by Sammy for a single.
Most of us Caribbean fans hadn’t started counting our chickens yet. West Indies’ victory still had to be hatched. The distinct possibility came when the key wicket of Umar Akmal was claimed by Sammy – his fourth lbw victim of the innings and one of a record 20 in the match. Umar would walk, three runs short of his half-century, and he would take with him, hopefully, Pakistan’s last hope.
Twelve runs later we began to worry about the defiance of tailenders Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal, the latter of whom had his stumps uprooted by Sammy to end the game with Pakistan on 178.
The touring side were gracious in defeat, but they will not be making it any easier for Windies in the next match. West Indies do not have any reason to rest on their laurels, nor for the heads of Sammy and Rampaul to become swollen. The victory march back has but just begun.
Still, on behalf of all the cricketing peoples of the Caribbean, especially those who have tirelessly rallied round the West Indies in good times and bad, we say well done, boys!