Last Pair Clings On To Hand West Indies Thrilling Draw In The 3rd Digicel Test

Last pair Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards defied England for 60 balls and 36 minutes in fading light here Thursday to spur the West Indies to a thrilling draw in the 3rd Digicel Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

The pace duo produced a resolute display against an aggressive England attack as the home team, 143 for three overnight, batted throughout the final day to reach 370 for nine and ensure that they retain a 1-0 lead with two to play in the five-match Digicel Series 2009.

Ramnaresh Sarwan earlier hit a brilliant 106 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul a typically determined 55 to give the home team a fighting foundation.

Morning rain caused a delay of an hour and 15 minutes before Sarwan, the eventual Man of the Match, and Chanderpaul resumed their overnight association and confidently dulled the visitors throughout the first session and a half.

The Guyanese pair had to battle hard but was rewarded as both passed landmarks in the second session.

Sarwan, in brilliant form this Digicel Series 2009, passed his 13th Test ton and Chanderpaul, short of runs before this, completed a typically resolute half century.

But England hit back immediately after taking the second new ball as Stuart Broad (3-69) grabbed both Sarwan and Chanderpaul to shift the momentum.

Sarwan struck 12 fours off 196 balls in 252 minutes before he played back to one that kept a bit low and lost his off stump.

Chanderpaul fell soon afterwards as he probed outside off stump and deflected a catch to wicket-keeper Matt Prior. The left-hander hit five fours off 165 balls in four hours.

The West Indies sipped tea nervously at 279-5 but the lower order rallied after the break despite England’s purposeful approach.

Brendan Nash, the last of the specialist batsmen, fell soon after the break, leg before to Swann as he prodded forward. Nash hit four fours in 23 off 49 balls.

Denesh Ramdin (21) and Jerome Taylor (11) also provided aggressive resistance before both fell to a fired-up James Anderson (2-68) to tilt the balance back towards England.

Taylor clipped a catch to midwicket while Ramdin tried to force through the off side and dragged back onto his stumps.

At 322 for eight with 21 overs still remaining, the largely English crowd of close to 4,000 were preparing to celebrate, chanting and cheering their team on.

But Sulieman Benn and Powell started the defiance in a ninth wicket stand of 31 that spanned seven overs.

The lanky left-hander reached 21 when the tide turned again as Swann earned an LBW verdict against an uncertain Benn forward prod.

Powell and Edwards were left with 14 overs to negotiate but, by now, the light was fast fading.

England threw everything at them, including an injured, but determined Andrew Flintoff.  But both batsmen, with a few nervous strokes and questionable runs, managed to see their team home.

Umpires Daryl Harper of Australia and Rudi Koertzen of South Africa, with skies darkening, eventually offered the pair the light at 6:02 p.m. with four overs still remaining to signal the draw.