Windies cling on for series triumph

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The Independent Online

England lost the Test series against West Indies after their brave fifth-day victory bid was foiled at the death.

West Indies, asked to bat for a minimum of 66 overs to save the final match at Queen's Park Oval, closed on 114 for eight, following a tense finale, which left England without a Test victory all winter.

Kevin Pietersen's 16th Test hundred set up the final-innings scenario which left West Indies requiring 240 for victory.

But they continued the defensive theme they have adopted since the start of the fifth and final Test to survive by another nailbiting margin and win the series 1-0.

Having staved off defeat in Antigua by one wicket, this time they had two in hand as number 10 Fidel Edwards survived five balls of the final over sent down by left-arm spinner Monty Panesar.

Edwards came to the crease with 20 balls remaining and survived his personal battle but it was his ninth-wicket partner Denesh Ramdin's two hours of discipline which were most significant in securing the draw.

James Anderson, undoubtedly the tourists' best bowler on day four despite it not being reflected in the wickets column, sustained his form with greater reward to keep England in the hunt, and Graeme Swann also claimed three wickets.

Anderson had opener Lendl Simmons brilliantly caught low down at second slip by Paul Collingwood as early as the seventh over.

Swann, who delayed elbow surgery to feature in the final two Tests of the series, reaped extraordinary figures of 21-13-13-3 as the hosts completely shut up shop.

Off-spinner Swann, comfortably England's leading wicket-taker in the series, was on immediately after Anderson's breakthrough and struck in his second over as left-hander Smith's horrible slog provided a straightforward leg before decision, which the batsman bizarrely opted to challenge via the umpire review system.

Having switched ends, Swann doubled his success tally when he found the edge of Sarwan's bat and Collingwood scooped up his second impressive slip catch of the innings.

Nottinghamshire's Swann was so close to a third success from the very next ball but first-innings centurion Shivnarine Chanderpaul's feathered edge was scooped up on the half-volley by Collingwood.

Three afternoon wickets nevertheless kept hopes alive and two within the first seven overs of the evening session meant all three results were still possible.

Swann trapped Chanderpaul leg before with a delivery which rushed onto the left-hander from around the wicket - and West Indies lost their right of referrals when Chanderpaul made a challenge.

Fellow left-hander Nash was also pinned lbw, this time by a delivery sent down from around the wicket by Anderson, who was reverse-swinging the ball prodigiously at good pace.

When left-arm spinner Monty Panesar fortuitously terminated Ryan Hinds' disciplined vigil, from the first delivery after replacing Anderson from the Brian Lara Pavilion end, there was a state of excitement around the ground.

Left-hander Hinds prodded forward to a delivery from over the wicket and the ball squeezed out to slip to spark vociferous appeals.

Australian umpire Daryl Harper adjudged the ball had grazed inside edge before striking pad and, without a referral to fall back on, Hinds had to go.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle, hampered by a torn hamstring, therefore came to the crease at 90 for six, with a minimum 22.5 overs still remaining in the contest - light permitting.

Within sight of leading West Indies to a first Test series victory in five years, Gayle opted to pad most things away.

It was a policy which only increased the excitement levels: England lost their final referral with an optimistic challenge by Panesar in the 50th over and appeared to have Gayle plumb in the 53rd after the same bowler switched ends.

But what deterioration of the pitch there was came to Panesar's aid four overs later when another delivery from around the wicket grubbed to hit Gayle on the boot to encourage Russell Tiffin to raise the finger.

Time was running out when Strauss switched Anderson to the other end but it revived the chance as a booming inswinger snaked through Daren Powell's defences.

But there was to be no fairytale finish to a tour of hard toil for fast bowlers.

Earlier, Pietersen celebrated his 50th Test appearance with 102 as England declared on their lunch score of 237 for six.

It was Pietersen's dismissal, caught in the deep pulling paceman Fidel Edwards, that triggered the interval.

Pietersen ensured they scored quickly despite West Indian gamesmanship in slowing the game down, to reach his hundred from 88 balls.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior also played in selfless manner to contribute an aggressive 61 from just 49 deliveries, before having his middle stump uprooted by Lionel Baker.

Pietersen made his concern known to Australian umpire Daryl Harper as home captain Gayle took his time over bowling changes and field placings.

Gayle strolled off the field in the second half of the morning session, presumably due to his injury, to leave Ramdin in charge.

But it did not alter the delaying tactics and England hardly helped themselves with constant messages sent out to the middle by 12th man Steve Harmison via bat and glove changes for Pietersen.

Before play it was confirmed that Panesar had been fined 25 per cent of his match fee for excessive appealing during West Indies' first innings of 544 while Amjad Khan was also reprimanded for the same offence.

It did not stop general excitement around the bat as the light dimmed this evening but disappointment was the prevailing mood among the tourists as they left the field in the knowledge that England have now slipped to sixth in the world rankings.