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West Indies edge ahead of England

First Test, Kingston (day three, close):
England 318 v West Indies 352-7

By Jamie Lillywhite

Brendan Nash
Nash's stubborn knock denied England's bid to end the innings

West Indies edged 34 runs ahead after closing day three of the first Test with England at Sabina Park on 352-7.

Skipper Chris Gayle, reprieved after a referral on 85, made his first Test ton on his home Jamaica turf and shared 202 with Ramnaresh Sarwan who struck 107.

Stuart Broad took two wickets in three balls shortly before lunch and added the key scalp of Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 20 shortly before the tea interval.

But Brendan Nash put on 66 with Denesh Ramdin and finished unbeaten on 47.

On an exhaustingly hot day, England's bowlers stuck to their task admirably but were initially thwarted by the dominant stand between Gayle and Sarwan.

The referral system that spared Sarwan on day two, played an important part again to save his skipper.

Andrew Flintoff had tested Gayle with a prolonged spell of accurate, probing pace despite a pitch that had become increasingly placid.

He thought he had dismissed the left-hander when there was a noise as the ball brushed down the leg-side and umpire Tony Hill raised the finger, but Gayle immediately made a signal of his own to ask for the incident to be reviewed.

Hill's views on the new ruling by replays may not be so favourable as it highlighted his third mistake of the innings.

Gayle added only one run in the next six overs, before moving into the 90s with successive sixes over mid-wicket off Monty Panesar, who turned the occasional ball sharply but had another largely ineffective day.

Unlike his friendly rival Kevin Pietersen, who tried to reach three figures with a six, Gayle was content with a deft glance for three as he reached his ninth Test hundred.

Chris Gayle
Broad brought England back into the match when he bowled Gayle for 104

It seemed unlikely that it would be Broad to make the breakthrough, given his wayward display on Thursday when he went for around four per over, but he bowled with impressive accuracy and ousted Gayle when an inside edge to one that kept a shade low uprooted the middle stump.

Having waited 71 overs as the next man in, Xavier Marshall lasted two balls as he was beaten for pace and trapped lbw.

That brought in Chanderpaul, a formidable obstacle with an average of 100 in each of the last two calendar years, but he might have succumbed to the first ball after lunch when an inside edge off Broad trickled past the stumps.

England were clearly so keen to dislodge Chanderpaul that they gambled their final referral when the left-hander offered no shot outside the off-stump to Panesar, who appealed in animated fashion.

The ball may have gone on to hit the stumps but it was the sort of decision that seldom goes in favour of the bowler given the amount of speculation involved, and sure enough it left England without right of appeal against the umpires for the remainder of the innings.

But in the next over the redoubtable Flintoff finally got his reward when Sarwan dragged one on that moved in.

With only 27 scored in 25 overs after lunch, England were content to delay the new ball for 24 overs.

When it was taken, Broad was rightly rewarded for his earlier endeavours with a share of it and he again provided the breakthrough.

Chanderpaul was pinned on the crease and given out by Hill, who would no doubt have been relieved when the referral showed that there was no reason for the decision to be overturned.

606: DEBATE
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That left the home side 64 runs adrift with five wickets left and all their top batsmen back in the hutch, but Ramdin played some stylish shots in partnership with the gritty Nash, who made fifties in both his opening Tests against New Zealand late last year.

On his home debut, the 31-year-old Australian-born left-hander, whose father was an Olympic swimmer for Jamaica, weathered some stormy waters when Flintoff peppered him with short deliveries, twice upper-cutting him for four.

Stubborn occupation of the crease was the main order of the day for him, even when England tried to frustrate him with seven fielders on the off-side.

Finally Panesar broke through when Paul Collingwood smartly snaffled Ramdin at slip, but though the ball began to turn more noticeably he could not strike again.

It was Steve Harmison who did, when Jerome Taylor offered no shot at one nipping back, though the Windies surprisingly did not ask for a referral, even though replays showed there was reasonable doubt.

England will be very keen to wrap up the innings on day four, however, and mindful of conceding a significant lead on such a wearing surface.

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
07 Feb 09 |  England
Pietersen knock steadies England
04 Feb 09 |  England
Pietersen defends shot selection
04 Feb 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England


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