Shivnarine Chanderpaul became the 10th batsman to reach 10,000 Test runs on Thursday as he headed the West Indies’ attempt to avoid defeat in the third and final Test against Australia.
Set a daunting target of 370 to win on a track offering plenty for spin, as the Windies’ Shane Shillingford proved with his 10-wicket haul, the home side fought hard with Chanderpaul making a typically stubborn 69 from 122 balls in his team’s 173 for five.
However, the left-hander was trapped LBW by Australia captain Michael Clarke in the final over of the day, dampening the enthusiasm of a home crowd who had sensed the chance of an exciting final day.
Chanderpaul reached his personal milestone in circumstances and a manner that has been typical of his career, patiently accumulating runs as his team struggled to avoid defeat.
However, the glimmer of hope provided by a partnership of 110 between Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo faded when both were removed in the final eight overs of the day.
Australia were relieved to remove Bravo, who had made a stylish 45, caught behind off Shane Watson and they were delighted when Chanderpaul departed.
The decision was gained after Clarke, who had three wickets with his slow left-arm, asked for a review after his LBW appeal had been declined and the changed verdict leaves Australia with victory well within their reach today.
Still needing another 197, the West Indies have plenty of time, but it will take a remarkable effort if they are to get close to the target.
The West Indies’ bowlers had done a good job of picking up the last four Australian wickets for 59 runs in the pre-lunch session as the tourists were bowled out for 259.
However, as has happened throughout the series, any benefits gained by the West Indies bowling attack were quickly undermined by the batting at the top of the order.
Opener Adrian Barath failed to make it through the 25-minute spell before lunch, brilliantly caught for a duck by a flying Ed Cowan at mid-wicket off Ben Hilfenhaus.
After the break, Clarke opted to make use of his own spin and his decision paid off instantly as he struck with his sixth delivery, trapping Kraigg Brathwaite (14) LBW.
Kieran Powell progressed to 24 and was looking relatively comfortable until Clarke bowled him to bring Chanderpaul to the crease.
The Guyanese left-hander is well used to the role that was cast for him, shouldering the responsibility for trying to save a match, and when he passed the 10,000 run mark before tea, his achievement was recognized by warm applause from the crowd and the Australian team.
The nudge to mid-wicket that took Chanderpaul into five figures also took his career average to exactly 50, an outstanding record for someone who has spent so much time in a losing team.
Typically, Chanderpaul’s response was a minimal acknowledgement as he returned to building the partnership with Bravo.
“It felt really, really good to reach this milestone today and I am very excited,” Chanderpaul said.
“It was one of the goals I set myself and I believe I have reaped the reward for the hard work I put in over the years,” he added.
An Australian victory and 2-0 series victory is clearly the most likely outcome, but the home crowd had another West Indies’ achievement to applaud on Thursday, with Shillingford becoming only the second West Indies spinner to take 10 wickets in a match in a home Test.