West Indies v Bangladesh, 1st Test, St Lucia, 3rd day May 30, 2004

Bangladesh rue missed opportunities

West Indies 262 for 5 (Gayle 110*, Lara 53) trail Bangladesh 416 (Bashar 113, Rafique 111, Ashraful 81) by 154 runs

Chris Gayle: an uncharacteristic innings but a vital one © Touchline
An uncharacteristically dour hundred from Chris Gayle prevented another day of embarrassment for West Indies, but Bangladesh wasted a golden opportunity to press home the advantage built on the first two days as they spilt no fewer than nine catches. By the close of another damp day in St Lucia, West Indies were 262 for 5, with Gayle unbeaten on 110.

The day began with Pedro Collins wrapping up Bangladesh's innings early when Mohammad Rafique played on driving outside off for 111. Bangladesh's total was their highest ever.

Gayle, usually the flamboyant strokemaker, played a subdued innings with only rare sightings of his trademark drives and cuts. He was helped by Bangladesh's generosity - he was dropped on 24, 28 and 47 - and his decision to adopt the anchor role was partially caused by his involvement in a farcical run-out at the top of the innings.

In the second over, Gayle pushed Tareq Aziz to point and Smith called for a sharp, but feasible, single. But he was sent back by a late call from Gayle, and Faisal Hussain's throw was well gathered by Aziz and Smith was left well short of safety (2 for 1).

Ramnaresh Sarwan took up the challenge, and with Gayle took the score to 89 before he fell for a sucker punch. He hooked a bouncer from Tapash Baisya for six, and Habibul Bashar ostentatiously moved Rafique to deep square leg. Baisya sent down another bouncer, Sarwan top-edged the hook, and the ball went straight down Rafique's throat. It showed a lack of intelligence bordering on the reckless and was the eighth time that Sarwan, who made 40, has perished hooking.

Brian Lara gave every sign that he was going to entertain the small crowd, unleashing some crisp drives and cuts before he tried to run Mushfiqur Rahman to third man and edged behind to Khaled Mashud for 53 (162 for 3); when Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell to Rafique for 7, also caught by Mashud, West Indies were wobbling (183 for 4).

But the catches kept being put down, and Dwayne Smith made a breezy 42 before undoing much of the good work by clubbing Rafique to Aziz in the deep as the gloom descended. The timing of his dismissal would not have pleased the coach even if his innings did.

But Gayle remained, reaching his hundred near the end of the day, and in so doing ensuring that today wasn't as wretched as it might have been.