Sarwan smashes Windies into lead
Batsman falls nine short of triple century as a draw against England looks likely.
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2009 05:55 GMT

West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan hits his way to glory [AFP]
Ramnaresh Sarwan hit a brilliant 291 and wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin a confident, maiden Test hundred on Sunday as the West Indies piled up a mammoth 749-9 declared on day four of the fourth cricket Test against England at Kensington Oval.

England, trailing after the first innings by 149, safely negotiated two overs to close on 6-0.

Sarwan, 184 not out overnight, struck 30 fours and two sixes as he stretched his 14th Test hundred to a career-best before falling nine short of a rare triple century.

The 28-year-old right-hander faced 452 balls and batted for 699 minutes.

Lucrative partnership

The 23-year-old Ramdin was equally fluent in his stroke-play, cracking 20 fours off 267 balls in just over seven hours before finally being bowled by Graeme Swann on 166.

The pair, who resumed on 398-5, carried the West Indies within sight of England's formidable first innings total of 600-6 declared before they were separated.

Their partnership, which started with the home team uncertainly poised at 334-5, realised 261 runs and spanned 70 overs.

Swann headed the England attack with 5-165 from 50.3 overs while James Anderson was rewarded for a whole-hearted effort with 3-125.

Sarwan said that it was the best he has played in his 78 Tests.

"I certainly think so, taking into consideration the fact that we fielded for two days,'' Sarwan said.

"It took a lot out of me physically as well as mentally so probably it's one of the better innings I've played.''

The Guyanese batsman's previous highest score in Tests was 261 not out against Bangladesh at Kingston in 2004 but had no other score over 139 before this match.

"I want to try to be more consistent in terms of whenever I get a hundred, try and get big hundreds. That's something I need to work on and hopefully this is a start,'' he said.

Ramdin was delighted to have been watched by his father Diaram who flew in from Trinidad for the match.

"He was up in the stands. It was really nice for my dad to be here, scoring my first hundred, it was lovely,'' Ramdin said.

Sarwan celebrates his century with Ramdin [AFP]
Windies dominant

Sarwan and Ramdin quickly stamped their authority on the day as they batted unbroken through the morning session with their main alarm coming from a run out chance and a failed TV referral by England against Sarwan.

Sarwan cruised to his second Test double century, off 297 deliveries, with a flailing cut over the slips off Anderson for his 21st four.

Ramdin reached his first fifty since May 2007 just before the West Indies took lunch at 483-5.

There was more West Indian dominance in the second session as both players took advantage of a true pitch and a flagging England attack.

Ramdin, who raced through the 80s and 90s, reached his hundred guiding a shot to fine leg off the second over with the third new ball.

During his celebration the Trindiadian revealed a note from his pocket which gave thanks to former Test fast bowler Ian Bishop, assistant coach David Williams and his partner Sarwan.

Nine short

Sarwan seemed set to become the fifth West Indian triple centurion (after Brian Lara twice, Sir Garry Sobers, Chris Gayle and Lawrence Rowe) when Ryan Sidebottom struck with the third new ball.

Sarwan, attempting an ambitious drive at an in-swinger, got an inside-edge onto his stumps at 595-6.

The West Indies were far from finished as Ramdin and Jerome Taylor added a frenetic 77 for the seventh wicket off 92 balls either side of tea.

Taylor cracked six fours and three sixes in 53 off 62 balls before Swann got an arm ball to beat the bat and knock back off stump.

Ramdin and Sulieman Benn (14) saw West Indies past 700 before Anderson claimed Benn to a top-edged pull.

Captain Chris Gayle opted to declare when Swann claimed Ramdin, bowled driving, for his fifth wicket.

England skipper Andrew Strauss (6 not out) and Alastair Cook (0 not out) had little trouble in surviving two overs before stumps.

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