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May 19, 2007
West Indies 363 for 7 (Chanderpaul 63*, Powell 0*, Ramdin 60, Panesar 4-108) trail England 553 for 5 dec (Prior 126*, Bell 109*) by 190 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For the first time this match represented an even contest, with West Indies battling hard throughout the third day of the first Test at Lord's. Their response to England's huge total was held together by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and rapid half-centuries from Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin. After Matthew Hoggard limped out of the attack, and Steve Harmison performed miserably, Monty Panesar shouldered the extra workload, taking four wickets in an outstanding display of left-arm spin.
Panesar's three wickets during the afternoon session left West Indies struggling on 187 for 5. But the absence of Hoggard was felt after tea as 146 runs were added, firstly by the efforts of Bravo and Chanderpaul then latterly by Ramdin, the 22-year-old wicketkeeper who formed a vital stand of 83 with Chanderpaul either side of the new ball. Ramdin's fifth Test fifty took 62 balls and helped push West Indies passed the follow-on shortly before the close, enhancing their chances of salvaging a draw especially given England's depleted resources.
The performance of England's two fit seamers - Harmison and Liam Plunkett - was hugely disappointing given their stellar county form coming into this match. But it acted as another warning not to read too much into domestic performances. Harmison's first spell had been reasonable, but his post-lunch and tea efforts included a liberal supply of leg-side dross. It made the unsung star of England's day Matt Prior, who followed his thrilling century yesterday by producing athletic glovework.
Plunkett was marginally better, collecting Chris Gayle's scalp with his second ball, but struggled to control the swing and twice bowled wides which went to the boundary. The best spell came at the end of the day and his penultimate ball ended Ramdin's stirring counter-attack. However, it didn't take away from the fact that England had let a fine position slip and showed how vital Panesar's performance had been.
When Andrew Flintoff was injured before the Test there was talk that England might consider leaving Panesar out of the final eleven to accommodate an all-seam attack. But, once again, he showed that he doesn't need a helpful surface to make an impact as he offered Andrew Strauss a vital attacking option while also being the main source of a consistent line and length.
Panesar was thrust into action before lunch when Hoggard limped out of the attack with a strained adductor muscle - hours after becoming a father - and continued for 29 overs unchanged from the Nursery End. He couldn't have started better, bowling Devon Smith with his first delivery, then benefited from some strong umpiring by Asad Rauf, collecting collect three leg-before decisions as West Indies' batsmen paid the price of playing pad first.
Bravo showed the way forward by advancing down the track, lofting Panesar down the ground, and made sure he played forward with a large stride. His tame dismissal after a cavalier run-a-ball half-century, reached with a handsome six off Panesar, was a wasteful end. When Paul Collingwood was used to fill in some overs Bravo fell for a leg-side trap, pulling a short delivery to Alastair Cook who managed to judge a low catch.
Chanderpaul, though, values his wicket more than anyone else in this West Indies side. In 2004 he was unbeaten throughout the Lord's Test, with 128 and 97, and again did his best impression of an immoveable object. Not much goes straight when Chanderpaul bats and he squirted his way to a valuable 123-ball half-century. With interruptions for light, and England needing to give their reduced attack enough overs to try and win the match, time has become a vital factor.
Ramdin replicated Bravo's bustle with similarly compact strokeplay. He drove and cut convincingly, attacking hard against the second new ball. Despite the late boost of Ramdin's scalp a weary England left the field knowing they'd been in a contest with more hardwork to come if victory is to be theirs.
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