The first time Shivnarine Chanderpaul walked out to bat in Test cricket was in March 1994, when he walked in with Brian Lara having got out. When he takes strike in his 277th innings, he will be eyeing the figure of 120 runs he needs to surpass Lara and become the highest run-getter for the West Indies in Test cricket.
The opportunity will be there for Chanderpaul to etch his name in the history books over the next few days as the West Indies takes on England in the second match of a three-Test series at the National Cricket Stadium in St George’s, Grenada from Tuesday (April 21).
A big knock from Chanderpaul will not only put him on sixth place among Test cricket’s highest run-getters, but will also give the West Indies a strong chance to take a series lead.
That the home team is in a position to seal the advantage is largely because of Jermaine Blackwood and Jason Holder.
Just before the start of the series, Phillip Simmons, the new West Indies coach, had stressed on the need for the team to show discipline and take pride in its performance in order to achieve success. And, Blackwood and Holder did just that by recording their maiden centuries.
While Blackwood produced a mature knock in the first innings and helped the West Indies reduce the deficit, Holder’s effort was crucial in the home side salvaging a draw.
Chasing 438, the West Indies was 189 for 6 when Holder took guard. He applied himself remarkably well to remain unbeaten on 103, and bat out 50.3 overs along with Denesh Ramdin, the West Indies captain, and Kemar Roach. When Ramdin fell, he became James Anderson’s 384th victim in Tests, making the fast bowler England’s highest wicket-taker.
Ian Bell, who scored 143 on the first day to set up the game, credited the West Indies for the fight it put up.
“I certainly did not turn up here expecting for them to roll over and this to be an easy series. You never expect that in any international cricket, let alone a Test team,” said Bell, on the eve of the second game. “I expected competition. Last time I was here I sat on the sidelines but they were long five-day Test matches; it was hard to get 20 wickets and I expected exactly the same.”
Bell apart, Gary Ballance was the other England batsman to score a century, and the visiting side will depend on the duo once again to lay a solid foundation.
In tough bowling conditions, it will be a challenge for Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Joe Root and Moeen Ali, if he replaces James Tredwell, to get past a resilient West Indies line-up.
Bell, the vice-captain, however, backed his bowlers to find ways to get the job done.
“There’s talk of there being a bit more bouncer here than in Antigua. West Indies swung the new ball nicely in both innings – so we have to use the new ball and get a few wickets early – and we are going to have to change our plans, get a lot of men in front of the bat,” explained Bell. “Moeen is back in the squad, which gives us options, but we will have to work out a formula which helps us get 20 wickets.”
On the other hand, the West Indies is expected to play Devendra Bishoo, providing depth to its spin department. And, if Blackwood and Holder produce an encore and Chanderpaul makes it a memorable Test then the bowlers will have plenty of runs to play with.
West Indies: Denesh Ramdin (capt, wk), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jermaine Blackwood, Marlon Samuels, Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Mark Wood.
Story courtesy of http://www.icc-cricket.com, photo by WICB Media Photo/Randy Brooks