PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – West Indies collected three late wickets to wobble England in their second innings, after Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash struck hundreds that helped limit the visitors’ first innings lead to just two runs in the fifth and final Test yesterday.
West Indies snared Andrew Strauss, Owais Shah, and Alastair Cook cheaply to put England under early pressure, before they reached 80 for three in their second innings at the close on the penultimate day at Queen’s Park Oval.
This followed Chanderpaul’s 21st Test hundred, a typically dogged, undefeated 147, and Nash’s maiden Test hundred of 109, as West Indies were dismissed for 544, replying to England’s first innings total of 546 for six declared.
But there were murmurs around the ground, when Chris Gayle astonishingly brought himself into the attack after four overs.
The West Indies captain had suffered a hamstring strain when batting the previous afternoon, and was forced to retire hurt and the sight of him leading the side onto the field was surprising enough, but when he chose to bowl, many could not believe their eyes.
He however, struck with his fifth ball, when he held an easy return catch to dismiss Strauss for 14.
Lionel Baker had shared the new ball with Fidel Edwards, and scalped Shah for one. He had missed the England number three when on one, when he offered a return chance off the leading edge, but the fast bowler could not react quickly enough to grab the catch.
Baker need not have worried too much. Two balls later, he delivered a wide half volley, and Shah chased it, got a thin under edge, and was caught behind.
West Indies might have had another wicket had Gayle asked for a referral, when Cook, on 11, played defensively forward, failed to touch his arm-ball, and was struck on the pad.
Television replays showed had he referred, umpire Aleem Dar should have needed little convincing to inform Russell Tiffin that his “not-out” verdict was incorrect.
But West Indies did not have to wait long to remove Cook. The England vice captain played defensively forward to Ryan Hinds and was adjudged caught behind for 24, after he lost his appeal to the video umpire.
At stumps, Kevin Pietersen was not out on 34 and Paul Collingwood, a century-maker in England’s first innings, was with him on one.
Earlier, Nash and Chanderpaul carried the number of century-makers for West Indies to three and in the match to a record-equalling six, and in the series to 16.
Before lunch, the Australia-born Nash, whose parents hail from Jamaica, reached his milestone from 234 balls, when he flicked Monty Panesar through square leg for a deuce in a pretty uneventful morning.
After lunch, Chanderpaul crossed the threshold in style, when he languidly straight drove his 288th ball from off-spinner Graeme Swann for the 10th of his one-dozen fours.
Chanderpaul and Nash shared a ground record-breaking stand of 234 for the fifth wicket to eclipse the mark set 56 years ago, when Sir Everton Weekes and Bruce Pairaudeau put on 219 against India.
West Indies however, lost their last four wickets for 25 runs before more drama unfolded.
West Indies lead the five-Test series 1-0, following an innings and 23-run victory in the opening Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica, where they bowled England out for their third-lowest total in Tests of 51.
This was followed by the aborted second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and drawn Tests at the Antigua Recreation Ground and Kensington Oval respectively.
West Indies need only a draw to secure a series victory over England for the first time in 11 years, and their first series victory over a side above them in the World rankings for six years.