|Scorecard:||West Indies v England|
|Player:||RR Sarwan, D Ramdin|
|Event:||England in West Indies 2008/09|
DateLine: 2nd March 2009
Ramnaresh Sarwan made a imperious career-best 291, and Denesh Ramdin converted his maiden Test century into 166, as West Indies powered into the ascendancy on day four in Bridgetown. Responding to England's hefty first innings of 600 for 6 declared, Sarwan inspired his side to a mammoth 749 for 9 declared - the ninth highest team total of all time, and West Indies' best since Brian Lara made his 400 in Antigua five years ago. Sarwan ensured that his team would carry their precious 1-0 series lead into the decider in Trinidad later this week.
Sarwan's masterclass spanned 699 minutes and 452 balls, and came to an end in the closing overs of the afternoon session, when Ryan Sidebottom, armed with the third new ball, uprooted his off stump as he aimed a tired waft into the leg side. Though he missed out on becoming the 24th Test triple-centurion he surpassed his previous Test-best of 261 not out, against Bangladesh at Kingston in 2004, and equalled the career-best of sir Vivian Richards. He resumed the day on 184 not out and quickly settled into that same easy rhythm that has characterised his series performance. A first-over mix-up was about as close as he came to giving his innings away, and for the best part of two sessions, England were powerless to force a breakthrough as their lead was whittled away in a ground-record sixth-wicket partnership of 261 with Ramdin, whose own quest for three figures was finally and emotionally achieved at the 56th attempt.
The pick of England's bowlers was Graeme Swann, who tweaked and toiled through 50.4 overs to pick up his second five-wicket haul in consecutive matches, although it was a tired and underwhelmed character who finally bowled Ramdin, four overs before the close, to claim the unflattering final figures of 5 for 165. He never stopped trying - floating and teasing with every variation in his armoury - and, having earned some good fortune from the umpires on the third day, he showcased his skill with a beautiful arm-ball that ended an entertaining half-century from Jerome Taylor who scored a boundary-studded 53. The best of the rest was Anderson as he consistently targeted the stumps with a full fast length, but once again there was little support from his colleagues. Stuart Broad bowled too wide of the stumps to be a genuine threat, while Sidebottom, for all that he was up on pace from his lacklustre third-day efforts, still gave the impression of a man whose fitness is in doubt.
Before his eventual breakthrough, Sidebottom gave Sarwan one other moment of alarm when, on 208, he appealed vociferously for lbw, a decision that, after some delay, Andrew Strauss finally agreed to put to a referral. It was, however, a poor use of England's one remaining trump card - Aleem Dar was correct in believing that the ball had pitched outside leg, and England came to rue that moment when, on 32, Ramdin played a rare loose shot down the leg-side, and appeared to edge Paul Collingwood into Tim Ambrose's gloves.
Ramdin played a dour innings in the critical first hour before blossoming as the day wore on. After resuming on 25 not out, he blocked his way through 40 subsequent deliveries for the addition of seven more runs. By lunch, his shots had begun to flow - he cut Collingwood once again to third man to reach his first Test fifty since the tour of England in May 2007, then overhauled his previous Test-best of 71, which came in only his fourth Test, against Australia at Hobart in November 2005. Ramdin was made to wait for his elusive hundred but he waited and finally tucked Sidebottom off the pads to end his wait, and immediately unfurled a scrap of paper as part of his celebrations, thanking Ian Bishop, David Williams and Sarwan himself for their support through the rough patches of his career.