DateLine: 19th May 2012
West Indies battling hard to save first Test.
In association with Investec.
Having conceded a daunting first innings deficit of 155, West Indies are battling hard to save the first Investec Test and once again it will depend on their leading and ever-reliant diminutive batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul to hold the innings long enough to take the fight to England.. He did bring about a recovery from 36 for three in a most determined fashion but there is still a long way to go if the tourists are not to be one down in this three-Test series. At stumps, on 120 for four, West Indies in the second innings trail by 35. Chanderpaul was unbeaten on 34 in two and a half hours and Marlon Samuels was 26 not out in a little under an hour and a half. They have a major batting task ahead.
West Indies second innings had seemed to be shaping well on 36 when England struck shortly before tea. Three wickets went down in a space of just nine balls without an addition to the total. Adrian Barath, whose 42 was the second highest score in the first innings was the first to go caught behind off Tim Bresnan for 24. It was Bresnan's first over, having replaced James Anderson, and Barath had taken two boundaries from his four previous balls until he played one from the crease which moved away taking the outside edge.
Kieran Powell, on 8, fell to the hook shot in the next over off Stuart Broad. England's plan had worked perfectly as a fielder had been placed at square leg for the shot. Finally that sequence of dismissals ended with a run out. The unfortunate Kirk Edwards, the non-striker, on naught after scoring just one in the first innings, was half way down the pitch when he was sent back as the throw came in from Jonny Bairstow at cover point to hit the stumps.
Chanderpaul, who had batted for over four hours for 87 in the first innings, to hold the innings together as wickets fell at the other end, once again put up solid defence. In a stand of 29 in over an hour, Darren Bravo scored 21 before Bravo showed poor judgement in leaving an arm ball from Graeme Swann which clipped the off stump. The left hander had expected the ball to turn away from him.
Chanderpaul was a rock again in the West Indies batting line up as he went on the defensive this time in partnership with Samuels. He was quite content to take the occasional run when he found a gap and in fact did not hit his first boundary until the 71st ball he had faced and that was after he had been at the crease for two hours.
At the start of the third day's play, the tourists didn't take long to get among the wickets. Within the first quarter of an hour they removed the England captain, who after his vitally important innings from his personal performance point of view and which silenced his critics, was able to add just one run to his overnight score of 121. Having been dismissed for a modest 243 early on the second day, West Indies were firmly back in the match after claiming three further wickets before lunch. Kemar Roach, having Strauss caought behind then trapped the debutant Bairstow lbw for 16.
The 22-year-old, after taking a risky single to get off the mark – a direct hit to the stumps might have seen him short of his ground – struck three boundaries that showed the stroke-play that he is capable off, was beaten by a ball that seamed in from a full length. Following that dismissal it was the turn of the West Indian debutant, Shannon Gabriel to get on the score sheet when he claimed his maiden Test wicket. Matt Prior, on 19, pushed forward leaving a gap between bat and pad to a ball that went straight through.
Three runs later England were down to 323 for seven with Tim Bresnan caught behind off Darren Sammy before scoring. England had lost four wickets in the first session for just 57 with Roach having taken two of them in a fine spell of pace bowling. After the break Stuart Broad became the only victim of Fidel Edwards, while Roach and Gabriel eventually finished with three wickets each for 108 and 60 runs respectively. It was an impressive debut for the 24-year-old Trinidadian, one of the more promising among the new generation of West Indian pace bowlers.
After Broad had been bowled for 10 in the first over of the second session, reducing England to 342 for eight, with Ian Bell on 39, a very useful stand between Bell and Graeme Swann added 55 in quick time. >From 42 balls they brought up the fifty of their partnership of which Swann had 30 with some aggressive shots which brought him six boundaries.
During the stand Bell reached his 30th Test half century from 94 balls. When Gabriel finally had him caught to end the England innings on 398, Bell had scored 61 patiently in three and three quarter hours just when his side needed someone to take charge with middle and lower order wickets having fallen quite rapidly.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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