The tail rises to the occasion with a spirited performance

ST. JOHN’S: The last-wicket pair of Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards defied England for 60 deliveries, as West Indies clinched a thrilling draw on the final day of the third Test here on Thursday.

West Indies, set an improbable 503 for victory, batted through the final day from 143 for three to finish at 370 for nine when bad light halted play with four overs remaining at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

Powell contributed a disciplined 22 off 55 balls, while Edwards was unbeaten on five off 26 deliveries.

The pair batted purposefully throughout the last 36 minutes and 10 overs before darkening skies forced umpires Daryl Harper of Australia and Rudi Koertzen of South Africa to offer the light to the batsmen, who gladly accepted.

The result preserved West Indies’ 1-0 lead in the five-Test series. “Yes, it is a victory for us,” West Indies captain Chris Gayle said. “I have to commend the guys for the effort they put in. It’s really tremendous to come out with a draw.”

Pat for Edwards

Gayle praised last man Edwards, whose match-saving innings was his third for West Indies.

“It’s like a customary thing for him. He’s done it here again today. You have to give credit to him and Powell for the way they batted,” Gayle said.

“It’s something we’ve been working on, everybody has to step up in a crucial moment of the game. It’s not an individual game.”

England twice declared at 566 for nine and 221 for eight, while West Indies scored 285 in its first innings. England dominated most of the third Test and sniffed a series-levelling victory. However, none of the bowlers could take the final wicket.

“It’s pretty tough to take,” England skipper Andrew Strauss admitted. “We had to work exceptionally hard for our wickets in the fourth innings there.

“I thought we had just done enough. In that last session, the guys dug very, very deep. Freddie (Flintoff) was bowling on one leg and the rest of the seamers were very tired. So to get very close was a great effort but it’s pretty tough to take.”

West Indies enjoyed the early exchanges after morning rain caused a delay of an hour and a quarter, resulting in the loss of three overs from the day’s quota of 90.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, 47 overnight, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, resuming on 18, stretched their fourth-wicket stand to 148 as they batted through the first session and a half.

Sarwan, already with a hundred and a fifty in the series, brought up his 13th Test hundred and Chanderpaul completed a half-century.

However, the second new ball brought success for the visitor as Stuart Broad, who took three for 69, removed both batsmen.

Sarwan was bowled for 106 by a ball that kept a bit low, and half-an-hour later, Chanderpaul edged to wicketkeeper Matt Prior after making 55.

Sarwan cracked 12 fours off 196 balls, while fellow Guyanese Chanderpaul hit five fours off 165 deliveries.

The match was delicately poised at tea with West Indies on 279 for five.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann, who claimed three for 92, struck soon after the break as Brendan Nash, who batted for 68 minutes and 49 balls, was leg before for 23.

However, the lower-order batsmen battled bravely to defy the tourist which was cheered on by a largely English crowd of close to 4,000.

James Anderson returned to pick up the wickets of Jerome Taylor (11) and Denesh Ramdin (21).

Taylor clipped a catch to midwicket and nine runs later, Ramdin was bowled off the inside edge.

West Indies was 322 for eight at that stage with 21 overs remaining. — AP

SCOREBOARDEngland - 1st innings: 566 for nine decl.

West Indies - 1st innings: 285.England - 2nd innings: 221 foreight decl.

West Indies - 2nd innings: C.Gayle lbw b Swann 46, D. Smith lbw bHarmison 21, R. Sarwan b Broad 106,R. Hinds c Shah b Broad 6, S. Chanderpaulc Prior b Broad 55, B. Nashlbw b Swann 23, D. Ramdin b Anderson21, J. Taylor c sub (Bell) bAnderson 11, S. Benn lbw b Swann21, D. Powell (not out) 22, F. Edwards(not out) 5; Extras (b-21, lb-7, w-1,nb-4): 33; Total (for nine wkts. in 128overs): 370.

Fall of wickets: 1-59, 2-81, 3-96,4-244, 5-261, 6-287, 7-313, 8-322, 9-353.

England bowling: Anderson 25-6-68-2, Broad 21-3-69-3, Swann 39-12-92-3, Harmison 22-3-54-1, Flintoff 15-5-32-0, Pietersen 3-0-15-0, Shah 3-0-12-0.

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