West Indies v India, 3rd Test, Dominica, 5th day July 10, 2011

Chanderpaul saves the day yet again

Under immense pressure when he walked out in the morning, he won redemption with a battling century

"Chanderpaul is the most irritating batsman to bowl to." That was Ishant Sharma, on the fourth evening, confirming what one suspected the case would be. Shivnarine Chanderpaul shuffles into the middle almost unimpressively. His head down, those anti-glare stickers under his eyes gleam, the helmet seems too big for his head, he peers through the grill before lowering his gaze again, revving himself for the task ahead. It's a bubble that he enters into.

Everything he does stands out. His stance, the way he marks his guard with the bail, his mannerisms, his leaves, and his nips-and-tucks. What can you say about that Jack-Russell leave? It's almost designed to make the bowlers tear their hair apart. It appears as if he is almost playing with their mind. It's almost as if he is saying "Look, look I am about to play it, the edge is here; just kidding. You thought I was offering a shot? Sorry. Next ball. Same thing."

However, today, as he walked out to resume his knock he would have been under immense pressure. Cricket is seldom merely a game of bat and ball. It's in the inner workings of the man that makes this game so fascinating to watch.

Chanderpaul needed runs. Two other seniors were already out. You know that story. The red lights were flashing at the exit door. His team needed his runs. The match hung on his bat. And soon, Darren Sammy, the 11th captain he has played under, fell to a wrong decision and he was left to bat with the tail.

Throughout his career, his critics have railed against his "selfishness". They say it comes through when he bats with the tailenders. The criticism is that he rarely farms the strike and almost prefers to be not out. He has rarely commented about it but it's not as if he doesn't care. You saw that in his leaping defence of himself, and the threat to sue, when the board said something about the seniors before the Pakistan tour.

There are other problems, personal in nature, that the ones close to him talk about. The pressure must have been ferocious as he faced up to the task today. The radio commentators were raising their voices too. "Chanderpaul must take strike."

He started to farm the strike initially. Surprise. He denied the singles. Arched eyebrows. He guided Fidel Edwards throughout his stay. The critics too would have fallen back in love. Luckily for him, it seemed the Indians had long given up trying to take him out. They rarely attacked him. It was an admission that he was too good today.

The crowd lapped it all up in great delight. "Let's go Chanderpaul, Let's go!" was the cry in the morning. It went around the arena and when he went down on his knee and kissed the pitch in his inimitable style, it reached a crescendo.

He had lots of problems yesterday against Harbhajan Singh, who was lacklustre today, and he only had couple of iffy moments against Suresh Raina. He pushed inside the line couple of times as the ball turned past the edge. Even then he rarely chased them. . The day wore on. Redemption was claimed in the morning with that ton and you were left wondering whether Chanderpaul will achieve glory in the afternoon by taking West Indies to a draw.

The Indians were a ragged unit today. Not one bowler was sharp. They even looked physically deflated. The draw looked a serious possibility but you knew, and they obviously knew, it was just one wicket away. Chanderpaul ensured it wouldn't be his. He leaned, lunged, pressed back, tucked, tapped, nudged, left, and irritated the hell out of the Indians. The crowd swelled in pride and the decibel levels grew but all fell silent in agony when Edwards, perhaps too tired, perhaps a touch too eager, perhaps getting a touch ahead of himself, lifted Raina to Praveen Kumar, who reflected India's agonising wait with the way he threw down the ball on the ground.

Chanderpaul and the amazing Edwards, whose energy levels match his fierce ambition, had batted out 37 overs. They nearly batted out India. Devendra Bishoo fell soon after. India couldn't go through Chanderpaul and so, they went around him.

In the end, as India gave up the chase, to the obvious surprise of many, West Indies walked around the stadium for a lap of honour. Chanderpaul, who hadn't come out to field, slowly followed them and walked behind them. He held his cap up on the left hand and smiled as the Dominican crowd, who seemed to have adopted him, gave him a rousing reception. It felt appropriate. Chanderpaul had yet again saved the day for West Indies. The story of his life.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    I am proud of Shiv. Who would be so crazy to think that he should retire after saving the West Indies from a trashing? You critics must be crazy. Shiv is here to stay.

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    Thank u the Dominican people for showing your love for Shiv Chanderpaul at a time when so many others turned on him ......thanks!!!!

  • jaswant on July 11, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    Finally the cloud that hung over his head has taken refuge somewhere else.It puzzled me as he continued to fail,something uncharacteristic about this lone genius. History will chronicle many great batsmen whose stroke play and records were phenomenal,men who have average 50 and over,but Shiv's quality is one of a kind.His average of 49, is a shade under the greats, yet i see this rare rock with the greats. Those who know the game know he is a bowler's nightmare,and he can also shift into overdrive when necessary.His statistic is amazing,23 hundreds,55 fifties,12 not out centuries,the 4th fastest test hundred etc.Thanks to the Prime Minister of Dominica for his gift to this rare jewel,you have revealed class.

  • Douglas on July 11, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    Dravid might be India's wall, but Shiv is the West Indian anchor.When de drops anchor like he did in this last game, wickets only fall at the other end, and even then, he encourages others to excel like he did with Edwards & Edwards. Shiv is what determination and perseverance is all about. His powers of concentration is a model for others to emulate. It is just a matter of time before he achieves the target of 1,000 test runs. Actually, he could do that in both forms of the game if given the chance. i heard that he is being given Dominician citizenship. The way Shiv saves the West Indies, he should be citizen for each and every country in the region.The tiger is getting old but he certainly has not lost his stripes.

  • Robin on July 11, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    Common WICB, drop him. He has done nothing for WI cricket, only played a 133 test and save WI team on numerous times from defeat and made a century in the highest succesful test score chase vs Aus. Far as WICB concern, this is not significant. Drop him Gibson, he is not taking your advice to retire. EXuma.

  • David on July 11, 2011, 16:51 GMT

    Yet another tremendous defeat - saving innings from a great WI player. Not too pretty to watch, but you ask opposition captains who they'd like in a situation like this, and I suspect that Chanderpaul would be very near the top of such a list!!

    Congrats. to him on yet another deserved century. WI without this player over the past decade - and - a - half would surely have lost a lot more matches than they have.

    It has always puzzled me why the WICB haven't recognised such a player with such tremendous qualities? It's not all about dazzling strokeplay in the biggest stage of them all: Test Matches.

    After all, it's Test matches that DEFINE a player's career, no other format of the game!! SC is absolutely essential to the development of this 'embryonic' WI team for the future...

  • N on July 11, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    I am disappointed that India didn't win this test (can't believe they didn't even go for it!). But I am happy for WI and especially Chanders. This man's a fighter to the core. And to think WICB thought about dropping him! If the WICB could reconcile with Gayle and bring back Dwayne Bravo and Taylor as well, WI could make a big comeback!

  • Mallik on July 11, 2011, 13:54 GMT

    OMG, I can't help but root for the WI team. What a performance from Chanderpaul!! How I long for the powerful WI team of the 90s. Wow, that would make international cricket exciting again. Right now, only 3-4 teams are consistently performing at the top level. One more and it would be the best thing that ever happened.

  • Tom on July 11, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    Congrats to Shiv on making a 100 in his 133rd test match... the most by any West Indian. the century contributed immensely to West Indies saving the test match, but the manner in which he batted during the partnership with Fidel is unacceptable. Whenever WI wins we as west indians tend to sweep problems under the carpet .. the same happens when we draw a test match, especially these days. Recently Shiv was critical of the coaching staff in saying that they wanted to tell him how to bat or contruct an inning. He hinted that he has been in international cricket for 17 years and he disaproves of the manner in which the coaching staff was "interfering" in his batting. However, let's be honest could the coaching staff of the WI cricket team be happy in the manner in which Shiv batted while he was at the wicket with Edwards? The WI needed to consume time and put runs on the Board. Shiv, as the leading batsman in the team contributed 29 runs while Edwards contributed 30. Unaccepable!

  • Sinhhalaya on July 11, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    Who's da man? You da man. Shiv blunted the attack and wrought a creditable draw for his side. SC ended the great Sri Lankan Vaas' mystique (and his career) with a uncharacteristic knock to win WI an ODI. Vaas never really recovered. This is a man of incredible talent, guts and character. One would almost like to adopt him and call him South Asian - Shivanarayan Chandrapalan. Rock on, bro.

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