Game Of The Year Showcased Chanderpaul’s Brilliance

5 December 2008

Trinidad hosted what was without doubt one of the best ODIs of the year in April, and arguably one of the best games of all time and in this article we take a look back at that riveting game and focus on the career of the star of that epic encounter.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Chanderpaul hits out for the West Indies
© REUTERS / Action Images

Sri Lanka handed the West Indies a 113-run hammering in the in Super Eight stage of the 2007 World Cup in Guyana. Sri Lanka would go on to reach the final, while the hosts failed to reach the last four of the competition. Almost exactly 12 months later the two sides were set to meet against for a three-match ODI series in the Caribbean, and revenge was firmly in the minds of Chris Gayle’s West Indies team.

The West Indies won the toss and decided to field in the first ODI, and the decision appeared to be the right one when Sri Lanka were reduced to 49 for five. However, a fantastic partnership of 159 between Chamaras Silva (67) and Kapugedera (95) enabled Sri Lanka to post a respectable total of 235 for seven.

Although Sri Lanka battled hard to post a decent total and give themselves a chance of victory, the reality was that at the half way stage, it was the West Indies who were firm favourites to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

West Indies further tightened their grip on the match when Gayle and Devon Smith put on 53 for the first wicket, Gayle going on to make 52. However, Gayle was dismissed with the West Indian score on 109 and vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan fell first ball as the home side slumped to 203 for seven, and when Benn was dismissed run out by the Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene the Sri Lankans seemed set to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Chaminda Vaas, who had bowled so well in the game and is one of the best death bowlers in ODI cricket was entrusted with bowling the last over, from which the West Indies needed 13 for victory, but with just one wicket remaining the batsman in the middle were number 11 Fidel Edwards, and West Indies most experienced batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

With 11 needed from three balls and with Edwards on strike the game appeared to be up for the West Indies. However, Edwards managed to sneak a single before Chanderpaul hit a glorious four straight down the ground to leave the West Indies needing six to win off the final ball of the game.

There was a deafening silence around the ground. Vaas ran in, bowled, Chanderpaul connected with the ball and smashed it over midwicket; for a moment Jayawardene thought he was in a position to take the catch that would have given his team victory, but the ball sailed inches over his head, and the West Indies had sealed an epic triumph. Chanderpaul raced off the ground in celebration followed by Edwards as all his West Indies team-mates ran onto the ground to embrace and congratulate Chanderpaul.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Chanderpaul marks another century in 2008
© REUTERS / Action Images

Chanderpaul was born in Untiy village, Guyana in 1974, and he made his debut for the West Indies in 1994 after fellow Guyanese Carl Hooper had earmarked Chanderpaul for greatness for a very young age. Just a couple of Tests in to Chanderpaul’s career, he found himself at the forefront of a historic situation – he was batting with Brian Lara when Lara broke the record for the highest individual Test score for the first time against England in Antigua. Lara later commented on the maturity Chanderpaul showed in that situation.

While Chanderpaul didn’t appear to have many problems, settling in and performing well at the highest level, there was a feeling that he was not quite fulfilling his undoubted potential early on in his career: the left-handed batsman had scored only two centuries in his first four years of Test match cricket.

Despite Chanderpaul seemingly not taking his game to the next level that many felt he was capable of, he has developed into one of the West Indies’ best batsmen for much of his career. Nevertheless, as long as Lara was in the team and at the helm Chanderpaul was always a vital member of the team, but in terms of recognition he was almost the forgotten man of West Indies cricket.

Lara’s shock retirement from International cricket immediately after the 2007 World Cup meant that Chanderpaul became the most experienced player in the West Indies line-up, but still all the talk was about new skipper Sarwan and the destructive Gayle.

If ever a player came of age, then Chanderpaul did just that in England 2007. The diminutive batsman from Guyana averaged just over 148 and scored two unbeaten centuries on the tour. Despite the West Indies losing the Test series 3-0 such were Chanderpaul was jointly awarded Man Of The Series with England’s Monty Panesar. Chanderpaul passed 50 in every international innings on the tour of England with the exception of the final ODI of the tour where he was dismissed in the 30s.

Chanderpaul also enjoyed a very successful home series against Australia scoring two centuries and averaging 147, although even his heroics weren’t enough to prevent his side going down 2-0.

When Lara retired many believed that the West Indies would really struggle. However, Chanderpaul appears to have done the impossible and filled the shoes of Brian Charles Lara, and with youngsters now stepping up for the West Indies there is every chance that Chanderpaul can lead the West Indies towards an amazing resurgence.

Aaron Kumar

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