West Indies could have been staring at the firing end of the barrel if not for the heroics of Shivnarine Chanderpaul on day 1 of the first test at Lords..
Chanderpaul battled it out while wickets kept tumbling at the other end, to make an unbeaten 87 at stumps as West Indies retired to their dressing room at 243 for 9 wickets. Adrian Barath too pitched in with a well fought out 42 to give something for the West Indies bowlers to defend when they come out to bowl tomorrow. Of course, West Indies still has one wicket in hand, with Chanderpaul still batting, yet it seems unlikely that the West Indian number 11 batsman, debutant Shannon Gabriel would be able to stave off the English attack for too long.
Earlier England won the toss and elected to field. West Indies lost wickets at regular intervals as England's Stuart Broad came good with a masterful 6-72.
Chanderpaul who looked completely in control, depsite the fact that he rarely had a partner to depend on throughout his innings, continued his good run on English soil. Chanderpaul now has scored 1044 runs at an average of 80.30 in England.
Just 13 runs shy of yet another brave century, it seems unlikely that he will get to the milestone, but one cannot help but laud the bravado of the 37 year old. Of course, despite Chanderpaul's heroics, former team-mate and West Indian great Brian Lara criticized Chanderpaul for pushing himself lower down the order and said, "If I was going to be critical of the batting line-up at the moment it would be that the top four lack experience. Chris Gayle would obviously add experience, but I would like to see Chanderpaul jump up to No. 3," according to The Daily Express. Further explaining why, Lara said, "Your best bat should go in at three, as he is the one who is going to lay the foundations for winning a match. If your best batter is coming in at five, he is just repairing damage. I just don’t understand the logic in it."
Jonny Bairstow made his test debut for England while Shannon Gabriel debuted for West Indies. Both Bairstow - being a batsman - and Gabriel - being a bowler - are yet to get an opportunity to prove their mettle in the match.
Tomorrow, as both teams make their way to the field, keeping their upperhand on the match will be uppermost in the minds of the English players, while West Indies will have to look at things positively as just shy of 300 is a decent score on the first day of a test match.