England's bid for a series-levelling victory in the fourth Test against West Indies was derailed yesterday, when Ramnaresh Sarwan hit his highest Test score and Denesh Ramdin his maiden Test hundred to give their side a 149-run lead. Sarwan hit the top score of 291 and Ramdin supported with 166 to allow the West Indies to declare on 749 for nine, replying to England's first innings total of 600 for six declared, on the fourth day at Kensington Oval.
Batting a second time, England reached six without loss in the two overs available before stumps. For close to four hours England were powerless as Sarwan and Ramdin added a record 261 for the sixth wicket at this ground. The visitors also found themselves staring down the highest team total on the ground for almost six decades. England had to wait until 10 minutes before tea to gain their first breakthrough, when they removed a tired Sarwan.
The off-spinner Graeme Swann took five wickets for 165 runs from 50.4 overs, and James Anderson finished with three for 125 from 37 overs. Sarwan completed his second Test double-hundred to take West Indies to 483 for five at lunch after the hosts resumed from their overnight total of 398 for five. Anderson was the bowler when Sarwan upper cut a short, rising ball outside the off-stump to the third man boundary for his 21st four to reach his double-hundred.
England thought they may have had him, when Ryan Sidebottom appealed for an lbw verdict with Sarwan on 208. Umpire Aleem Dar ruled not-out, and when it was referred, the video evidence ruled the ball clearly pitched outside leg-stump, thus England lost their last referral. Just prior to the interval, Ramdin reached his 50 from 112 balls, when he guided Paul Collingwood to third man for his fifth four.
By tea the West Indies reached 607 for six with Sidebottom finally dismissing Sarwan just before the break with the sixth over of the third new ball. The little right-hander drove lazily at a full-length delivery and was bowled off the inside edge. Sarwan spent 11 hours, 39 minutes at the crease, and struck 30 fours and two sixes from 452 balls. The West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman Ramdin glanced his 194th ball from Sidebottom to deep fine leg for a single to reach triple figures in Tests for the first time.
After tea, England spirits were broken when Jerome Taylor continued to assault their bowling and Ramdin inched his way to 150. Swann paid the price for flighting outside the off-stump, when Ramdin lofted him inside-out to the long-off boundary for the 19th of his 20 boundaries to reach the landmark. Taylor reached his 50 from 60 balls, when he cut Swann to third man for the last of his six fours, but two balls later, the off-spinner bowled him for 53.
Anderson had Sulieman Benn caught behind for 13 top-edging a hook before Swann bowled Ramdin, when he played down the wrong line to prompt the West Indies' declaration. Ramdin occupied the crease for a little more than seven hours and faced 268 deliveries. England trail in the five-Test series 1-0, following an innings and 23-run defeat in the opening Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica, the abandonment of the second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and a draw in the third Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
The fifth and final Test of the series starts next Friday at Queen's Park Oval in the Trinidad capital of Port of Spain. * Reuters