Sarwan and Gayle resort to damage limitation

South Africa 604-6 dec West Indies 301 & 263-3
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The Independent Online

Repeatedly in what has been another miserable overseas series, the West Indies batsmen have compensated for inept bowling and fielding by stalling, if not always thwarting, South Africa's progress to victory.

They seemed down and out on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test yesterday before Ramnaresh Sarwan, the 23-year-old vice-captain, and Chris Gayle, 24, the tall, left-handed opener, restored pride.

Each scored his second hundred of the series, and his fourth overall, sharing an unbroken partnership of 164 that carried the West Indies to 263 for 3 in their second innings at the end of another gloomy day, shortened to 64 overs by rain and dim light.

Following on after scoring 301 in reply to South Africa's 604 for 6, they are still 40 in arrears and, with the new ball immediately available, a difficult last day lies ahead if they are to prevent their third defeat in four Tests.

Sarwan, who was on seven at the overnight position of 44 for 2, batted with the stylish diligence of his 114 in the second Test, stroking 14 fours in the five hours, 20 minutes it took him to reach 107. He escaped a run-out the previous day and was let off on 20 when the wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, missed a leg-side chance off Makhaya Ntini.

Gayle's innings was interrupted on 14 the previous day by a ball from Ntini which hit him in the groin. He resumed when Shivnarine Chanderpaul was caught off Jacques Kallis, and played for three hours with solid certainty for his 106. This was a more measured innings than his 79-ball hundred in the third Test.

The two hundreds raised the number in the series to 20, 12 by South Africa and eight by the West Indies, only one fewer than the record for any Test series, in the five Tests between the West Indies and Australia in 1955.