West Indies v Australia 2008 /

Trinidad & Tobago Express

West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Antigua, 5th day

A curse is broken

Fit again, Sarwan has played all this season, unhindered by the cracked and dislocated bones that had occurred with such frequency. The runs have flowed and he has even regained the captaincy, even if temporarily

Tony Cozier

June 4, 2008

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Ramnaresh Sarwan's match-saving 128 was his third major contribution since his return to the team after an enforced layoff of almost a year © AFP
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Coming, as he does, from Guyana, Ramnaresh "Ronnie" Sarwan might have wondered many times last year whether he had somehow angered a bacoo or some inexplicable obeah spell had been cast over him.

In that time, he was shocked to be dropped from the team in the series in Pakistan in December 2006 and had as many injuries as a war veteran, one following the other in a sequence that cost him the captaincy to which he was appointed on Brian Lara's retirement following the 2007 World Cup.

At last, the curse has been broken. Fit again, he has played all this season, unhindered by the cracked and dislocated bones that had occurred with such frequency. The runs have flowed and he has even regained the captaincy, even if temporarily.

His superb 128 in his match-saving partnership with the ever-present, ever-reliable Shivnarine Chanderpaul yesterday was his third major contribution since his return to the team after an enforced layoff of almost a year.

The first all but salvaged a draw in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Providence in March with scores of 80 and 72. But for a dodgy lbw decision on the last day he might have shepherded West Indies to safety. The second, a Man of the Match performance with 57 and 102, carried them to victory over Sri Lanka at the Queen's Park Oval and a share of the series.

As yesterday, Chanderpaul was again by his side in a stand of 157 that reduced a challenging last innings target of 254 to a comfortable win by six wickets.

Yesterday's heroics were crowned by another hundred and a result that, in the circumstances, against the current powerhouses of the game, was as worthy as that at Queen's Park. Then, he and Chanderpaul had to deal with the swing of Chaminda Vaas and the wiles of Muttiah Muralitharan.

Yesterday, the main threats were the lethal pace of Brett Lee and the metronomic accuracy of Stuart Clark, both of whom had undermined them in the first Test at Sabina Park and in the first innings here. They were supported by Mitchell Johnson and, on the last day of his Test career, Stuart MacGill, both of whom had their best days of a disappointing series.

The pitch remained flat and passive but, as at Queen's Park, the pair set out on their journey from the insecurity of three early wickets - from 73 for 3 then, 84 for 3 now.

While Chanderpaul dug in for another of the marathons that have frustrated England, South Africa and Sri Lanka - and the Australians with 118 at Sabina - Sarwan approached his task with controlled aggression, even after Lee administered a blow to shoulder and helmet early in the piece.

There was certain proof that the luck had changed when he gained the benefit of the TV umpire's verdict on a touch-and-go stumping chance off MacGill when on 92 and a couple of close lbw claims from the occasional medium-pace of Mike Hussey.

As in the Queen's Park triumph over Sri Lanka, he couldn't quite seal the deal, dismissed after five and a half hours to Johnson's first delivery with the second new ball.

But he left the final rites in the steadfast care of Chanderpaul and there was no way the most immovable object in the game at present was going to depart until the job was done.

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