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Stylish Sarwan frustrates England

Fourth Test, Barbados (day three, close):
England 600-6 dec v West Indies 398-5

By Jamie Lillywhite

Ramnaresh Sarwan
Sarwan played with exquisite timing, particularly through the off-side

Ramnaresh Sarwan's imperious unbeaten 184 guided West Indies to 398-5, 202 runs behind England after three days of the fourth Test in Barbados.

After Graeme Swann struck with his second ball and again before lunch, Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put on 122, their seventh century stand.

Chanderpaul made 70 and Brendan Nash shared 53 with Sarwan, but both were controversially ousted after referrals.

Sarwan and Denesh Ramdin took their team within three of the follow-on.

At the close, Sarwan was only nine short of 500 runs for the series and played with great fluency, with all of his 19 fours caressed through the off-side.

The talk before the series was of the difficulty in dislodging Chanderpaul, but his 28-year-old fellow Guyanese Sarwan has proved the kingpin, with three centuries and a lowest score of 94.

As the Windies resumed on 85-1, England knew that taking another 19 wickets to level the series was not going to be easy given such a flat surface, and that was further demonstrated when Sarwan stylishly drove two boundaries in the opening over of the day from Stuart Broad.

They tried all manner of tactics against him, Broad resorting to some persistent short-pitched stuff from around the wicket, but Sarwan stood firm for his 14th Test century.

He could well have gone on 51, however, when Broad's well directed short ball was fended awkwardly, but looped to safety as no short-leg was in place, and putting one in as an after-thought was no consolation for the bowler.

Left-handed opener Devon Smith ended a run of 23 innings without a fifty but was rather fortunate to record his fourth Test half century.

He got an inside edge past the stumps to exasperate the easily agitated Ryan Sidebottom, and the left-arm seamer turned a deeper shade of crimson when Smith reached his fourth Test fifty.

A gap was left at second slip and the edge flew at catchable height exactly where the fielder should have been.

But if that was a negative against Strauss, he atoned by introducing Swann after 11 overs, which brought immediate success.

The spinner continued his happy knack of breaking through as Smith was struck on the pad pushing forward, and confirmed out following a referral and an interminable delay.

Ryan Sidebottom
Sidebottom was far from at his best and looked short of match fitness

In the third over before lunch, Swann struck again as Ryan Hinds played down the line of the stumps with his bat behind his pad and paid the penalty, deciding not to jeopardise the final referral of the innings.

Sarwan did his best to ensure Swann would not settle into a comfortable groove however, swiping over mid-wicket for six and driving the next ball for four.

Chanderpaul played some crisp drives through the off-side, but not all of his efforts were appreciated, and when he was content to leave some tempting deliveries from Swann outside the off-stump there were boos from sections of the crowd used to a rather more adventurous approach.

The period up to tea produced some rather dour fare, with England opting for the occasional bowling of Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen and sweepers protecting the boundaries in defensive fields.

Indeed the crowd were more interested in the antics of Caribbean crowd jester Gravy and his cronies, such was the state of the stalemate.

The new ball became available in the second over of the final session and James Anderson struck an important blow with it.

Sidebottom was ineffective with the ball, but his woeful misfield on the boundary kept Chanderpaul on strike and the obdurate left-hander was out two balls later.

606: DEBATE
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Once again though it was a regrettable decision from TV umpire Daryl Harper, who somehow decided not to reprieve the batsman when replays showed the ball hit the top of the pad more than two metres in front of the stumps.

That left the Windies 120 short of the follow-on, but Sarwan continued in fine style and brought up the 300 with a deliberately played upper cut over the slips for six.

He built another excellent partnership with the gritty Nash, who sliced Broad for six and played a succession of belligerent strokes.

But umpire Harper was soon in the action again, England gambling on their final referral after an original not out when Nash pushed well forward to Swann.

There was no indication whatsoever that the decision was incorrect, as there was clear doubt the ball would have hit the stumps, but Harper recommended it should be reversed.

After an initial state of disbelief, the West Indies management team marched in to see the match referee and give their opinions.

But no method of dismissal could dislodge Sarwan and his masterful performance retained West Indian hopes of retaining their series lead into the final match in Trinidad.

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
01 Mar 09 |  England
Fletcher backs referral system
01 Mar 09 |  England
England on top after Strauss ton
26 Feb 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England


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