PORT-OF-SPAIN // England took lunch having scored 237-6 in their second innings on the fifth day of the final Test match against the West Indies. Resuming on an overnight score of 80-3, England upped the ante with Kevin Pietersen hitting a quickfire 102 and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior scoring 61 to keep the tourists in the hunt.
Pietersen was caught by the substitute Dwayne Bravo off the bowling of Fidel Edwards after Paul Collingwood fell for just nine - caught and bowled by Ryan Hinds - and Prior was bowled by Lionel Baker. England, who need to win the match to level the five-match series 1-1, were 239 runs ahead with two sessions left to play. On the day before, however, England were struggling after their top order caved in while attempting to get quick runs.
Given the situation in the series, England looked to play their shots and soon lost their captain Andrew Strauss for 14, caught and bowled by the off-spinner Chris Gayle. Owais Shah was then caught behind off Baker for one before Alastair Cook (24) fell in identical fashion to Hinds shortly before the close. Still earlier, West Indies were bowled out for 544, a first-innings deficit of two runs. Brendan Nash (109) hit his maiden Test century and Shivnarine Chanderpaul was unbeaten on 147 as the home team again frustrated England.
If the hosts do hold out in the final two sessions to secure their first series win over England in 11 years, they will have Nash - a little man from Attadale, Western Australia - to thank. Nash's composed and resilient innings gave West Indies a great chance of defending their series lead and rewarded him for years of unheralded play. "It's been many years of hard work to finally get the opportunity, to be there on 98 and 99 was very nervous. But I got there in the end so I'm very happy with that," Nash said.
Before moving to play for Jamaica in 2007, Nash, 31, played his cricket for Queensland in Australia's domestic competitions and worked as a professional for Monton and Weaste in the Central Lancashire League. It was when Queensland chose not to renew his contract that Nash decided to try his luck in Jamaica, the land of his parents, and after a good first season in Caribbean regional cricket he earned a call-up for his first Test when West Indies toured New Zealand in December.
West Indies have not been beaten in the six Test matches since Nash came into the side - two in New Zealand and four on this tour - and he showed the qualities that have impressed his coach and fellow Australian John Dyson against England's attack. Nash was part of a 234-run partnership with fellow left-hander Chanderpaul and said his teammate was a big help. "Shivy and I had to work together and build a partnership. It's very easy to do with him, he likes to bat time and that's something I've learnt from him and hopefully will continue to do so in the future," he said.
"He makes the game look very simple and that gives you a bit of confidence at the other end. He doesn't look like he is going to get out so you can just play your game and go from there." The pairing with Chanderpaul was a record fifth wicket partnership at the Queen's Park Oval. However, Nash's celebrations were tempered by the knowledge that his team could still have to bat last. "The track is wearing a little bit more, there are some good rough patches there for the spinners so if we get our chance to bat again we are going to have to watch hard and make sure the spinners don't take full effect of that rough," he said.
"We have to make sure we have a gameplan and stick to it." * Agencies