PORT OF SPAIN, March 10 – England wobbled to 80 for three in their second innings, after Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash collected hundreds to keep West Indies in the fifth and final Test on Monday.
England lost the wickets of their captain Andrew Strauss, stylish No.3 Owais Shah, and their vice captain Alastair Cook in a dramatic hour and 10 minutes before stumps were drawn on the penultimate day at Queen’s Park Oval.
The visitors had earlier gained a lead of just two runs, after Chanderpaul scored his 21st Test hundred, an undefeated 147, and Nash made his maiden Test hundred of 109, as West Indies were dismissed for 544, replying to England’s first innings total of 546 for six declared.
Chasing quick runs before the close in a desperate bid for a series-levelling victory, England soon ran into trouble.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle may have a hamstring strain, but he introduced himself to bowl his uncomplicated off-spin after four overs, and held a return catch to dismiss Strauss for 14.
Shah was fortunate Lionel Baker missed a return chance, when he got a leading edge on flick, but two balls later, his luck ran out, caught behind for one giving a thin under-edge chasing a wide half-volley from the same bowler.
The last thing England wanted was to have lost another wicket before the close, but Cook was fortunate that on 11, West Indies did not ask for a referral when an lbw appeal from Gayle was turned down.
But the England vice captain failed to make use of the reprieve, and he was caught behind off Ryan Hinds’ slow left-arm bowling for 24.
It was a dramatic end to another slow day on which Nash and Chanderpaul played a starring role.
Before lunch, England endured a fruitless toil, as Nash reached his maiden Test hundred and helped West Indies reach 433 for four at the interval.
England began to see signs of a last-ditch effort for victory ebb away, when Nash and Chanderpaul held firm throughout the morning period.
All of the England bowlers put their best efforts forward, but the Australia-born Nash, whose parents hail from the island of Jamaica, withstood and reached his hundred from 234 balls, when he flicked Monty Panesar through backward square leg for two.
Otherwise, it was a largely uneventful morning, except when Stuart Broad and umpire Daryl Harper faced off over a call of wide, when the fast bowler delivered a bouncer at Nash and it sailed over his head.
England made up for lost time after lunch, snaring three wickets, including Nash before tea.
But England could not prevent durable left-hander Chanderpaul from adding his name to the list of century-makers in the Test, as West Indies reached 519 for seven at tea.
Off-spin bowler Graeme Swann has been England’s bowling hero in the series, but Chanderpaul drove him for the 10th of his 12 fours to reach his hundred from 288 balls.
Chanderpaul’s was the third hundred for West Indies, a record-equalling sixth in the match, and the 16th in the series.
England had much more success in the afternoon, when Broad had Nash caught at second slip in the second over after lunch.
Nash had shared a ground record-breaking 234 for the fifth wicket with Chanderpaul which erased the mark set 56 years ago by Everton Weekes and Bruce Pairaudeau against India.
Swann had been wicket-less for 36 overs and suffered some punishment at the hands of Chanderpaul and fellow left-hander Ryan Hinds.
But the England spinner got his revenge when Hinds was stumped for a rapid-fire 23 that included four fours and a straight six off Swann, then Jimmy Anderson scalped Densh Ramdin lbw for 15 on the stroke of tea.
After tea, England steadily work their way through the West Indies tail-enders and captured the home team’s last four wickets for 25 runs.
Gayle kept his word and returned to complete his innings, which ended when he was caught at short extra cover for 102 off Swann.
Broad was the pick of the England bowlers with three wickets for 67 runs from 30 overs, despite his protestations about the pitch, Swann took three for 130 from 45.4 overs, and Panesar two for 114 from 43 overs.
England trail in the five-Test series 0-1, following an innings and 23-run defeat in the opening Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica, where they were dismissed for their third-lowest total of 51 in the second innings.
The second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua was abandoned because of an unsuitable outfield, while the third Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground and the fourth Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados both ended in draws.
England need a victory to share the series and retain the Wisden Trophy, symbol of Test supremacy between the two sides.