Shivnarine Chanderpaul has said West Indies could pull off a shock win in the third Test against South Africa in Barbados despite being in a seemingly hopeless situation. The hosts had few backers, finishing the third day with a slender lead of 19 and only three second-innings wickets remaining, but Chanderpaul thought the state of the pitch could give them an outside chance.
"If we get a lead over 100, anything is possible on that pitch," Chanderpaul said. "Then if we bowl well and field well, we can probably win the game. We have to make sure we take whatever we can get out there. We can't get bogged down because if you get bogged down, you get out."
West Indies did well on the third morning, dismissing South Africa's tail cheaply to restrict their first-innings lead to 115, with Sulieman Benn picking six wickets. However, some questionable batting from the top order, followed by effective spells from the South African spinners left West Indies in disarray by stumps. Chanderpaul's unbeaten 57 was their only bright spot and he hoped to give his bowlers something to bowl at in the fourth innings.
"Make sure we keep putting runs on that board, and take as much as we can, and whatever we get, we will have to work with," he said. "It is one of those pitches that you have to keep fighting on, especially when the spinners are bowling. When the pacers are bowling one side of the wicket, and they are not trying anything much, they are not giving you any opportunity to score, they are being patient, waiting for you to make a mistake. You just have to be patient and keep fighting."
Chanderpaul rued the way his side had wasted the opportunity to post a big total in the first innings, when they had the best of the conditions. Having won the toss, they could only muster 231 as several batsmen gave it away after getting starts. "It's always good to have a good start, and get a big score in your first innings, but it didn't happen for us. In any Test match it is a major setback. It would have been better if we had a huge total; maybe 400-plus, so that we could run at them later in the match," he said.
South Africa's batsmen on the other hand, knuckled down in tough conditions and ground out a lead, with Ashwell Prince top-scoring with a patient 78 off 262 balls. "Obviously with the spinners bowling into the rough it was tough to score runs," Prince said. "Also with the ball being soft against the fast bowlers, it was hard to get the ball away. The pitch was a bit on the slow side. Sulieman Benn bowled well on it as well. He had good control, and did not bowl many bad balls."
Prince echoed Chanderpaul's assessment that South Africa gained the upperhand on the first day when they bowled West Indies out for a poor score. "What was in our favour was that we got them out quite early in terms of the match on day one, so even though we were not scoring runs freely, we had lots of time. As far as our game plan was concerned we were looking to bat as long as possible to build enough of a lead."
Prince's effort, coupled with 70s from Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers, took South Africa ahead before Dale Steyn put them in control with a three-wicket burst that claimed Chris Gayle, Narsingh Deonarine and Dale Richards. Prince was delighted with the Steyn's efforts and thought it set up his side's dominance on the third afternoon. "He is a world-class bowler, so we are not surprised when he takes wickets. Then obviously when the spinners come on, it is tough as well."
While Steyn was at his menacing best, West Indies' approach did not help their cause, with Richards and Deonarine perishing to poor shots. Prince put down the attacking intent to the hosts' eagerness to square the series. "Being one down and wanting the win to draw the series level, they probably wanted to be a bit more aggressive in this match," he said. "They are playing it hard out there, and we are playing it hard too, and that is the way Test cricket should be played."