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June 3, 2008
Ramnaresh Sarwan described his first Test century as the West Indies captain as "very special" after the effort helped his team secure a draw that could easily have been a loss. His 128 did not stop Australia regaining the Frank Worrell Trophy but the fierce resistance put up by Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul gives West Indies confidence heading to the third Test in Barbados, which should feature Chanderpaul despite the batsman carrying a calf niggle in Antigua.
West Indies began the final day chasing 372 for a highly unlikely win and Sarwan went out all guns blazing in the first session, racing to 64 at lunch with front-foot drives and brave cuts in the air as he aimed to put Australia on the defensive. But a fired-up Brett Lee picked up two early wickets, giving Australia an air of self-belief, and Sarwan said his main goal was to get through the difficult period without going into his shell.
"We needed to survive that but at the same time we needed to be positive," Sarwan said after the match. "Our focus was to take every session as it is."
The early stumbles forced a rethink after the break and a cooler Sarwan became much more solid in defence, leading his side by example. His previous three Tests as captain had not been personally productive - he had made 54 in three innings and severely injured his shoulder in one match - but this time with the rock solid Chanderpaul he built a match-saving 143-run partnership.
Chanderpaul's calm display was the latest in a long line of super efforts; he already has two centuries in the series and his unbeaten 77 means his Test average in the past 12 months is 106.20. Sarwan said Chanderpaul's recent form beggared belief. "It's very hard to find words to describe," Sarwan said. "Over the past few years he's shown his consistency and he's getting better with age. Hopefully we can learn from him."
Chanderpaul scored largely through his trademark deflections and glances, occasionally driving or pulling when the bowlers erred, and he said the goal was playing for time. "We had a plan, bat session by session, don't play nothing too rash, just play safe," Chanderpaul said. "Try to stay as long as possible out here."
Although he had a slight limp during the match Chanderpaul expects to play in the series finale, which starts in Barbados on June 12. "[It's] just a little bit of strain in the calf," he said. "Should be okay, [we have] about eight days to prepare for the next game, so I should be all right."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.