Cricket: Chanderpaul in assertive mood

Cricket

DAVID LLEWELLYN

reports from Taunton

West Indies 230 Somerset 162-6

Somerset's second stab at the West Indies got off to a great start with a wicket in the second over, but it was highly likely that the opener Stuart Williams was still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes since the match was kick started half an hour earlier than everyone, fans and tourists alike, had expected.

That is because Somerset have to get away an hour early on Friday for their trip to the Netherlands, so the first two days have been increased by half an hour, with a 10.30 start, while tomorrow the dawn chorus will just have finished when they have to troop out at 10am - if the match goes the distance.

Somerset looked as rocky as the West Indies had in the morning before Simon Ecclestone and Robbie Turner pulled them out of trouble in the final session of a hot day.

It took an innings of consummate skill and timing from the young left- hander, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, to spare West Indian blushes. The Guyana- born batsman's century was a cool breeze of class which cut through the hot still air of Taunton and should send a chill through the hearts of England.

Chanderpaul, who will be 21 in two weeks' time, looks certain to win his eighth cap in the fifth Test next week. His previous seven Tests have produced six half-centuries and an average of more than 60.

The No 6 berth looks up for grabs with another left-hander, Keith Arthurton, likely to give way, unless Carl Hooper fails to recover from his cracked finger. Had it not been for Chanderpaul the West Indies would have been in a mess as they stumbled dozily to 71 for 5. However, by the time Chanderpaul departed, after 20 exquisite boundaries in a chanceless innings of 105 balls, the West Indies had more than enough to work with.

Somerset did themselves proud. Having held the tourists to a draw in May they put their backs into it, and Turner's six catches, equalling the county's record for dismissals in an innings, coupled with Jason Kerr's first five-wicket haul of his career put them into a seemingly strong position.

But the tourists' attack made serious inroads into the reply. Two wickets apiece for Ottis Gibson, Vasbert Drakes and the leg spinner, Rajindra Dhanraj, ensured that any advantage Somerset may have accrued was negated by the close. Only Ecclestone's cultured, hard-hitting flurry kept the innings going but he took one chance too many with Dhanraj and fell shortly before the end.

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