Cricket: Chanderpaul haul

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The Independent Online
Shivnarine Chanderpaul converted his overdue, maiden Test hundred to an unbeaten 137 as the West Indies compiled a first-innings 298 on the second morning of the third Test yesterday. Curtly Ambrose then bowled opener Venkata Laxman's off-stump in his fourth over and India went to lunch 42 for one in reply.

Chanderpaul, the frail, 22-year-old left hander from Guyana, has been so consistent since first appearing in a Test, three years ago almost to the day, that he entered this Test with an average marginally below 50. But in 18 previous matches and 29 previous innings he had passed fifty 12 times without being able to reach the elusive hundred. He did so late on the first afternoon.

His concentration and application had been essential to the West Indies' revival from the predicament of 131 for five on a lively, well grassed pitch that no one else could properly cope with. He was 102 at the start, following the Good Friday break, and the West Indies, 240 for seven, depended greatly on him to reach the psychologically important 300.

He and the determined Ambrose had already added 47 and, aided by shabby Indian fielding, they put together a further 28 with aggressive stroke play. No ball in the match was hit harder than Ambrose's off-driven boundary off Abey Kuruvilla but the tall, fast bowler, a find for India in his first series, gained his revenge with a slip catch that ended Ambrose's important innings of 37.

From the beginning, Chanderpaul was striking the ball with confidence and placement and he did most of the scoring in another productive stand of 32 with Franklyn Rose, one of the four giant West Indian fast bowlers eagerly waiting their turn for a chance on the sprightliest pitch of the series.

Scampering back for a safe second run, Chanderpaul got no response from his stationary partner who was run out by the length of the pitch when wicket keeper Nayan Mongia relayed the return from long leg to the bowler's end.

Chanderpaul finally ran out of partners when Venkatash Prasad gained his fifth wicket of the innings with an lbw decision against last man Mervyn Dillon. Prasad has been left to spearhead India's attack in the absence of the injured Javagal Srinath.

Chanderpaul left the ground to the acclamation of a Kensington Oval almost packed to its 14,000 capacity. He batted all-told just under seven and a half hours, taking 12 boundaries from the 284 balls he received. There is nothing flashy about his method and he is certainly no Brian Lara. But he is an essential element in the West Indies order.

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