On his first Test tour of Australia, a skinny Shivnarine Chanderpaul, still without a Test century after 12 games, also did not get one in his 13th at the SCG but produced a sparkling innings in a losing cause that showed his game could be about more than just accumulation. After squandering chances to take charge of the second Test, West Indies required 340 to win. The pitch was turning and on the final morning, they lost their first three wickets in the space of 20 balls, with being Brian Lara one of those three. But Chanderpaul would not go quietly, taking on Shane Warne until the "Earl of Twirl" had to be withdrawn from the attack. He eventually returned to put an end to Chanderpaul's counter-attack with a vicious ball that spun from outside off-stump to bowl him. But the "Tiger" had shown he had a sharp bite.
A game that will be remembered primarily for India's spectacular slide to defeat, bowled out for 81 chasing 120 by Ian Bishop, Curtly Ambrose and Franklyn Rose in Brian Lara's first ever game was West Indies captain, also produced Chanderpaul's first Test century. Without it, West Indies would not have won. Fittingly, he was Man of the Match for a superior display of technique and courage. It was a bowler's track from the start, uneven bounce and lateral movement helping the fast men. Lara lost the toss and West Indies had to bat. They struggled against new ball bowler Venkatesh Prasad who took five wickets but he could not remove Chanderpaul. Nobody could. Chanderpaul carried his bat for almost seven and a half hours without offering a single chance. His already noted powers of concentration was taken to new heights, and for one rare occasion, his team-mates were able to convert his runs into a victory.
This was Chanderpaul at his attacking best. The Australians prevailed in this game comfortably in Chanderpaul's hometown, winning by nine wickets and there were five centuries in the match. None, however, made tongues wag like Chanderpaul's tour de force. Once again it was made in the midst of a crisis. West Indies were 47 for 4 when he replaced Marlon Samuels at the crease, and 53 for 5 when the reliable wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs joined him at captain Lara's dismissal. It was the first day of the series on a ground where high-scoring matches and rain was the norm. But on this day of dazzling sunshine, Chanderpaul was brilliant. With shots to all parts of the ground, he gave everyone pause, stroking 15 fours and helping himself to two sixes so rapidly that he produced what was at the time Test cricket's third fastest century, off just 69 balls.
Chanderpaul was not at the crease when West Indies actually set the new world record chasing the highest total to win a Test match, but his second-innings century along with Ramnaresh Sarwan's 105 set up a memorable seven-wicket win at the Antigua Recreation Ground. It seemed an improbable task for a side on the brink of being whitewashed 4-0 by Steve Waugh's world champion Australians. The likelihood of getting for 418 for victory seemed to diminish even further once that breaker of records Brian Lara was dismissed by Stuart MacGill for 60 on the fourth afternoon. But Chanderpaul rarely passes up a chance to make runs on a good wicket. And this time he got sufficient help, Ramnaresh Sarwan taking the lead during their fifth-wicket stand of 123 and then Omari Banks adding 84 with him before Chanderpaul himself went early on the final morning to Brett Lee. But only 46 more were needed then.
The Australians seem to bring out the best in Chanderpaul. This knock was heroic despite coming in another loss; the hero emerging battered and bruised from an intriguing encounter with Lee in the West Indies first innings. Knocked down by a blow to the back of the helmet on 86, he was seen by both the team doctor and physio before being allowed to carry on. Straight away, Chanderpaul was back to his solid self, working the ball around with No.10 Fidel Edwards to eventually reach a century, the ovation for which all of Kingston might have heard.
*09:46 GMT, April 27: The article had incorrectly stated 1997. This has been changed.
Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express