December 9, 2002

Sarwan makes Bangladesh toil with maiden Test ton

Rajesh Kumar

After today, Ramnaresh Sarwan will be one man who will be rooting for Daren Ganga's inclusion in the West Indies side. It was Ganga who was keeping Sarwan company when the talented Guyanese right-hander scored his maiden international ton in the second one-day international against Bangladesh recently. And Ganga was again around when Sarwan finally breached the landmark for the first time in Tests on the second day at Dhaka.

With Sarwan making 119 and Marlon Samuels weighing in with 91, the visitors reached 400-5, a lead of 261.

Bangladesh had earlier claimed the honours on the second morning, with new-ball bowler Tapash Baisya dismissing the two West Indies openers in the 40th over of the visitors' innings - the seventh of the day.

Chris Gayle, who had settled down after a flying start to make 51, was the first to go. He chased a wide delivery outside off stump, and the resultant edge was neatly pouched by Bangladesh wicket-keeper Khaled Mashud.

Four balls later, Gayle's partner Wavell Hinds' bid for a second successive Test ton was thwarted. The well-built Jamaican opener, who made 100 in the West Indies' last Test against India at Eden Gardens, was out after adding just two runs to his overnight score of 73, offering mid-wicket an easy catch. Baisya had done his share of the work.

Enamul Haque struck next for Bangladesh. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is generally at his prolific best on sub-continental wickets, succumbed to the guiles of the left-arm spinner after making just four. But all these setbacks only set the stage for the Ramnaresh Sarwan-Marlon Samuels show. The two enormously talented youngsters quickly hit their stride and took complete command.

A series of searing drives and cuts sent the Bangladesh bowlers running for cover during most of the afternoon. The only bowler who gained a measure of control was Haque. One delivery to Sarwan in particular deserved a wicket. Beautifully flighted and turning away, it drew the Guyanese right-hander almost out of his crease. Fortunately for Sarwan, he regained his balance at the last possible moment.

That minor contretemps apart, the two batsmen were masters of all they surveyed. They only slowed down when they approached their landmarks. Samuels was unlucky to play a false shot when a century seemed his for the asking. Shuffling across, he was trapped in front after a 175-ball 91, studded with 15 fours.

But Sarwan was not to be denied. His had been a masterful knock and when he opened the face of his bat to run the 195th ball he faced to short third man and complete the long-awaited hundred, he seemed the happiest man on the face of the earth.

Having finally raised the landmark after 27 Tests and 48 innings, Sarwan played with unbridled freedom until, slashing at a wide delivery, he was caught at third man for 119.

Ganga, who had kept Sarwan company during a 51-run fifth wicket stand, and skipper Ridley Jacobs ensured that no further setbacks were suffered. Ganga ended the day with 34 not out, with Jacobs on 14. They will be hoping to pile on quick runs on the third morning in pursuit of an early win.