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Sarwan and Gayle defy South Africa

Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle hit their second centuries of the series on Monday to give the West Indies a chance of saving the fourth and final Test.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2004 09:30 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle hit their second centuries of the series here on Monday to give the West Indies a chance of saving the fourth and final Test against South Africa at Centurion Park.

The West Indies were 263 for three at the close on the fourth day, just 40 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat.

Sarwan (107 not out) and Gayle (106 not out) shared an unbeaten fourth wicket partnership of 164, a record for the West Indies against South Africa, as they went a long way towards retrieving what had seemed a lost cause for the tourists, who are 2-0 down in the series.

They still face a tough fight on the final day, with the new ball due at the start of play Tuesday and a maximum of 105 overs available.

But the forecast is for continued overcast weather, which has caused the floodlights to be switched on during play each day and which has led to bad light stopping play early, with a possibility of showers.

"We're still in the driving seat," said South African coach Eric Simons.

"The new ball is crucial. We still believe we can bowl them out for another 100 runs."

Simons said his bowlers had beaten the bat frequently and he was not disappointed with their performance while giving credit to the West Indians.

"They've taken a lot of flak and they've come out and shown they have a lot of pride."

The West Indies were 44 for two at the start of play on Monday, with captain and star batsman Brian Lara already dismissed.

South Africa's hopes of wrapping up an early victory were thwarted first by rain, which allowed only 30 minutes of play before lunch.

Then, after Shivnarine Chanderpaul had been dismissed by Jacques Kallis, Sarwan and Gayle came together in an outstanding partnership.

Both batsmen hit their second centuries of the series and the fourth of their careers.

Sarwan gave a half-chance on 20 when he glanced Andre Nel down the leg-side and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher got a glove to the ball and he had an escape on 40 when a lifting delivery from Makhaya Ntini looped off the splice of his bat just over Andrew Hall at gully.

Sarwan batted cautiously for his first fifty, taking 169 minutes and 123 balls, but batted with increasing fluency to reach his century after 268 minutes and 202 balls with 14 fours.

The hard-hitting Gayle returned to the crease after Chanderpaul's dismissal. He retired hurt on 14 Sunday after being hit in the groin by a ball from Makhaya Ntini.

The tall left-hander played with typical flamboyance on his return as he hurried to his half-century off 60 balls, several times lofting balls near fielders, but became increasingly more solid as he went to his hundred off 136 balls with 17 fours.

Neither batsman was available to the media.

West Indian manager Ricky Skerritt said they would not talk because they had to carry on batting Tuesday.

With only a handful of spectators in the ground after the morning rain, South Africa's bowlers and fielders were unable to repeat the intensity they produced Sunday when they bowled the West Indies out for 301 in their first innings, egged on by a near-capacity crowd of 16,600.

South African all-rounder Andrew Hall suffered a prolapsed disc in his left lower back after bowling only two balls. He will be out of action for four to six weeks.

He will miss a forthcoming one-day series against the West Indies and will probably miss a tour of New Zealand which starts next month.

The centuries by the two West Indians raised the number of hundreds in the series to 20 - 12 by South Africans and eight by the tourists.

The world record for most centuries in a series is 21, when the West Indies played Australia in the Caribbean in 1954/55 in a five-match series.

First Published: Jan 19, 2004 17:01 IST