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  • England v West Indies, 1st Test, Lord's, 4th day

England face nervy final-day chase

The Report by David Hopps
May 20, 2012
West Indies 243 and 345 (Chanderpaul 91, Samuels 86) v England 398 and 10 for 2. England require 181 more runs for victory
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England were frustrated by Shivnarine Chanderpaul's defiance © Getty Images
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Six minutes before tea on the fourth day, Shivnarine Chanderpaul finally cracked. Another Test innings of monumental patience ended when he swept at Graeme Swann and Marais Erasmus raised his finger for the lbw decision that England begged. Even then Chanderpaul made them wait, and the Lord's crowd with them, as he called for a review, but technology granted no clemency: the ball was shown to be striking leg stump.

The result of his painstaking resistance was a victory target for England of 191, a dominant position certainly, but not an impregnable one. That much was made painfully apparent for England in an awkward four overs batting in murky light in which Andrew Strauss and the nightwatchman James Anderson both succumbed to Kemar Roach, whose mini-burst would have had great West Indies fast bowlers of old purring in appreciation.

Strauss, a first-innings century-maker, succumbed for a single as he edged Roach to Kieran Powell, the finer of two gullies. Roach hit 90mph and Anderson was caught at the wicket, the ball brushing his glove and Anderson deciding, quite rightly, that a review would be unwise now that Sky's high-quality cameras have brought new efficiency to Hot Spot - a message here for the ICC. It could have been worse for England if Jonathan Trott had fallen first ball; Aleem Dar turned down an lbw appeal, West Indies appealed to DRS, but Trott had got millimetres outside the line.

Chanderpaul's birthing pains have set up a great finale. He batted for nearly ten-and-a-half hours in this match. He followed an unbeaten 87 in the first innings with 91 second time around before his laborious resistance, characterised by furtive flicks into the leg side, was finally broken. It was an innings so introspective that it turned all those who watched it into introverts, increasingly wrapped up in their own thoughts as they respectfully observed an innings of rare discipline.

It was not solely about Chanderpaul, because alongside him Marlon Samuels summoned one of his most disciplined Test displays, 86 from 172 balls, as West Indies resisted with great dedication. Chanderpaul's placid refusal to quit communicated itself to his partner, who can rarely have batted so judiciously for his country.

Until the grand climax, it was a largely monotonous day, decidedly chilly, too, with a brisk northerly wind. If this abysmal weather continues much longer egg-and-bacon overcoats will be de rigueur in London NW8. But it was a day from which West Indies could draw pride. With their resistance at its height, a couple of players ventured on to the balcony to convey their support for an immensely worthy innings and wore white towels over their heads. If Chanderpaul had batted much longer England's bowlers would soon have been looking for white flags.

At the start of play, West Indies trailed by 35 with six wickets intact and forecasts abounded that the game would be up by lunchtime. But the pitch remained slow, it was too cold to swing, and England were again faced with the problem of how on earth to rid themselves of Chanderpaul's silent resistance. Shiv was Shiv, engaged in an extensive exercise in problem solving. His fifty came in 151 balls and three-and-three-quarter hours as he inside-edged Bresnan past leg stump. It was one of his few errors. He raised his bat as if disgusted with himself.

James Anderson finally picked up a wicket when he bowled Denesh Ramdin © Getty Images
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They began by bowling wide at him, as they had on Saturday, the repetitive cricket causing spectators to bury themselves dejectedly into their overcoats. When they were driven into bowling straighter, Chanderpaul routinely worked them behind square. England might have been better posting a leg gully; anything to suggest that the shot had an element of risk. They were reluctant to bowl fuller with the old ball because there was no movement but, as Chanderpaul was as likely to sing a song as drive down the ground, their reluctance was hard to fathom.

There was always the chance of a run-out because Chanderpaul is so immersed in his own game that he is often oblivious to the needs of his partner. He might have been run out by Kevin Pietersen's underarm flick from short mid wicket on 38 when Samuels wanted a single. On another time he ambled halfway down the pitch on the assumption of a single to mid-off and had to retreat quickly. His offended glare at Samuels at least found some use for the anti-reflective war paint below his eyes. He did not say anything: like most introverts, he deals in non-verbal cues.

Alongside Chanderpaul, Samuels grew in authority. The lesson about how to construct a Test innings, and fight for your team, was seeping in. He was struck on the shoulder by a short ball from Broad and concluded that it was time to adopt a more aggressive approach, pulling him thunderously through midwicket. England will remain convinced that he is shaky on the short ball.

The second new ball, due one over into the afternoon session, was not the panacea for which England had hoped - but it did account for Samuels. They took it gratefully at 212 for 4, after suffering a wicketless morning, and it was into its sixth over when Stuart Broad had Samuels caught at second slip. It ended a fifth-wicket stand of 157 runs in 54 overs and Broad puffed out his cheeks in relief. The afternoon session leaked only 53 runs in 28 overs, grim fare indeed.

England's seamers had little luck on a pitch that became a little livelier as the day progressed, more reason for West Indies optimism. Tim Bresnan, previously an economical but unthreatening third seamer, found seam movement, Broad occasionally flogged life from a sedate surface and with Anderson also passing the edge at regular intervals without reward, England's frustration became increasingly evident.

After Chanderpaul became the sixth wicket to fall, the Test shifted tempo. West Indies added a further 84 in 25 overs with Darren Sammy, the antithesis of Chanderpaul, providing a freewheeling 37 from 47 balls and taking a particular liking to Bresnan, who he struck for four boundaries in eight balls.

Sammy fell, though, to an outrageous carve, high above his head, at Broad who also had Kemar Roach caught at backward point to finish with match figures of 11 for 163. Denesh Ramdin's resistance ended when Anderson removed his off stump and Shannon Gabriel was bowled, slogging at Swann. England, on the ropes at the close, will have been grateful he did not get out 20 minutes earlier.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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