[dropcap]S[/dropcap]hivnarine Chanderpaul continued his love affair with Kensington Oval when he scored his 25th Test century on Sunday to put the West Indies in control over Australia after two days of the first Digicel Test match
The veteran left-hander batted for over six hours for a masterful 103 not out, becoming the leading run scorer in Tests at the Kensington Oval. It helped the West Indies pile-up 449-9 declared much to the delight of a colourful and supportive crowd at the historic ground. Australia reached 44-0 at the close.
The 37-year-old in his 18th year of international cricket and playing a record 138th Test match celebrated his milestone by kissing the pitch. During the innings he surpassed Brian Lara as the leading run-maker at Kensington. Chanderpaul is now behind Lara (34) and Sir Garfield Sobers (26) on the all-time list of West Indies century-makers.
Chanderpaul made his maiden Test century at the ground — 137 not out against India back in 1997. His other centuries at the venue are: 101 not out against India in 2001 and 153 not out against Pakistan in 2005. Just three weeks ago he made an unbeaten century at the same venue for Guyana against Barbados in the Regional 4-Day tournament.
“It feels really great to hear the news that I’m now the leading batsman at Kensington Oval. I heard it when they announced it. It is not something that I really expected, to be honest, but whenever you come here to Barbados it is always a good wicket for batting and you know you will settle in and you will get the support of the crowd. The ball does a bit but once you can settle in you can get runs,” Chanderpaul said after the day’s play.
“It was not really about me today, but more about achieving the team goals. We set team goals and that is what we worked towards. It was good that we could reach the goals we set out at the start of the innings. The main goal was to reach 450 and we declared just one short, so as a team we are quite satisfied with that. The Australians bowled well on the wicket. They were patient and you had to work hard for your runs.”
Chanderpaul’s knock was his fifth century in the Caribbean against Australia in seven Test matches. He averages now 75 in his last 29 home Tests since 2004. Overall he is now on 9,812 Test runs — 188 runs away from becoming the second West Indian to make 10,000 Test runs.
It was good day for the West Indies batsmen. It was the first time in the 84-year history of West Indies Test cricket that all 11 batsmen reached double figures. Chanderpaul added a 53-run partnership with skipper Darren Sammy, who took the aerial rout as he blasted three sixes in an entertaining 41 off 36 balls after he survived a blow to the head.
“Whenever Sammy is batting things will always be lively. I kept looking at the partnership and realised I wasn’t contributing much,” Chanderpaul said with a laugh. “… but I just decided that I needed to hang in there and be the rock of the innings. Everyone is working hard. It is really good to see the youngsters, they are getting better and coming through. They are the future and it is pleasing to see them put their heads down and make a contribution.”