Last pair Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards defied England for 60 deliveries so West Indies could clinch a thrilling draw on the final day of the third test.
West Indies,set an improbable 503 for victory,batted through the final day from 143-3 to finish 370-9 when bad light halted play with four overs remaining at Antigua Recreation Ground on Thursday.
Powell contributed a disciplined,unbeaten 22 off 55 balls,and Edwards ended 5 not out off 26 deliveries. The pair batted purposefully throughout the last 36 minutes and 10 overs before the darkening skies forced umpires Daryl Harper of Australia and Rudi Koertzen of South Africa to offer the light to the batsmen,who gladly accepted. The result preserved West Indies’ 1-0 lead in the five-test series.
“Yes,it is a victory for us,” West Indies captain Chris Gayle said. “I have to commend the guys for the effort they put in this test match. It’s really tremendous to come out with a draw.”
Gayle praised last man Edwards,whose match-saving innings was his third for West Indies. “It’s like a customary thing for him. He’s done it here again today. You have to give credit to him and Powell,the way they batted,” Gayle said.
“It’s something we’ve been working on,everybody has to step up in a crucial moment of the game. It’s not an individual game.”
England twice declared at 566-9 and 221-8,while West Indies scored 285 in its first innings. After the second test was abandoned as a 10-ball draw on Friday because of a dangerous outfield at nearby Sir Vivian Richards Stadium,England dominated most of this test and sniffed a series-levelling victory.
But none of the bowlers could take one more wicket. “It’s pretty tough to take,” England skipper Andrew Strauss admitted. “We had to work exceptionally hard for our wickets in the fourth innings there. I thought we had just done enough. In that last session,the guys dug very,very deep. Freddie Flintoff was bowling on one leg and the rest of the seamers were very tired. So to get very close was a great effort but it’s pretty tough to take.”
West Indies enjoyed the early exchanges after morning rain caused a delay of an hour and a quarter,resulting in the loss of three overs from the day’s quota of 90.
Ramnaresh Sarwan,overnight 47,and Shivnarine Chanderpaul,resuming on 18,stretched their fourth-wicket stand to 148 as they batted through the first session and a half.
Sarwan,already with a hundred and a fifty in the series,brought up his 13th test hundred and Chanderpaul completed a half century as England flagged.
But the second new ball brought success for the visitors as Stuart Broad,who took 3-69,removed both set batsmen. Sarwan was bowled for 106 by one that kept a bit low and,a half-hour later,Chanderpaul sparred outside off stump and diverted a catch to wicketkeeper Matt Prior on 55.
Sarwan cracked 12 fours off 196 balls in 252 minutes. Fellow Guyanese Chanderpaul hit five fours off 165 deliveries in four hours. The match was delicately poised at tea with West Indies on 279-5.
Offspinner Graeme Swann,who claimed 3-92,struck soon after the break as Brendan Nash,who batted for 69 minutes and 49 balls,was leg before for 23.
But the lower order all battled bravely to help defy the tourists,who were cheered on by a largely English crowd of close to 4,000. James Anderson returned to pick up the wickets of Jerome Taylor (11) and Denesh Ramdin (21).
Taylor clipped a catch to midwicket while nine runs later,Ramdin was bowled off the inside edge. West Indies was 322-8 at that stage with 21 overs remaining. Lanky left-hander Sulieman Benn and Powell shared a defiant ninth-wicket stand of 31 that lasted 42 deliveries before Benn fell to Swann to set up a tense finish.
England threw everything at the last pair but just failed to deliver the final blow. The fourth test starts on Feb. 26 at Bridgetown,Barbados.