St John’s: The West Indies were staring at their first ever series whitewash in the Caribbean after Australia reduced them to 106 for three, chasing 418 for victory, at lunch on the fourth day of the final Test on Monday.
The West Indies captain Brian Lara, who had made 27, and vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was on 18, were batting after they lost three wickets in the morning session.
The West Indies were 303 for six at 2 am with Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 60 and Omari Banks on 11. Ramnaresh Sarwan, who hit a strokeful 105 (off 139 balls with 17 fours) put on 123 with Chanderpaul to raise hopes of a miraculous win before miscuing a pull off Brett Lee. Sarwan was involved in a couple of heated arguments with Glenn McGrath and some other Aussies. Ridley Jacobs was given out caught-behind first ball, the TV replays revealing that the deflection was off the forearm. The angry crowd pelted missiles, forcing a five-minute stoppage. Brian Lara had earlier fallen to Stuart MacGill for 60, which included five fours and three sixes.
Resuming on 47 for no wicket, the West Indies added only one to their score before Chris Gayle pulled Brett Lee’s delivery straight to Australia captain Steve Waugh at mid-on for 19.
Devon Smith followed three overs later for 23 when Jason Gillespie found his outside edge and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist took the catch to leave the home team 51 for two.
Daren Ganga, who has suffered a dramatic loss of form after making back-to-back centuries in Georgetown and Port-of-Spain, made only eight before he was adjudged leg before to Andy Bichel.
Lara and Sarwan then combined to thwart the Australian bowlers until the break, but the home side still has to score the highest ever fourth innings total needed to win a Test match to prevent the whitewash.
India made 406 for four in the fourth innings to beat the West Indies in Port-of-Spain in 1976.
The highest fourth innings score the West Indies have achieved against Australia was 352 in Sydney in 1969. The West Indies made 311 for nine to win the third Test in Bridgetown in 1999.
Australia wore black armbands in memory of former Test cricketer Ernie Toshack, who died aged 88.
On Sunday, the Australians were bowled out for 417 in their second innings (as reported briefly in Monday’s Late City edition) after losing nine wickets for 175 following a 242-run opening stand between Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
As Gayle and Smith went out to bat, Lara’s team faced the Herculean task of scoring 418 for victory or bat out a minimum 203 overs to force a draw. When failing light stopped play with five balls remaining on Day 3, the West Indies had managed to avoid casualties and reached 47.
Fifth 200-plus stand
The third day’s highlight was Hayden and Langer’s fifth double-century opening partnership, passing the four by the great West Indian opening pair of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.
It was the left-handed pair’s highest opening partnership in 36 innings batting together, surpassing their previous best of 224 against New Zealand in Brisbane in November 2001.
Hayden batted for almost six hours for 177 — his 14th Test hundred and second of the series. Langer registered his 15th Test century — 111 from 161 balls with 17 fours and a six.
“I was very frustrated because I was set for a huge score. I’ve been run out a lot of times in Test cricket,” said Hayden after being run out.
Lawson action reported
Jermaine Lawson, who took seven for 78 in Australia’s first innings, has been reported because of his action, Match Referee Mike Procter said. “The umpires asked to review footage of Lawson’s action from the first day’s play. After reviewing the footage... the umpires have reported the bowler to the ICC,” Procter said.