Good, better, Best! Windies tail-ender rattles England with historic 95
BIRMINGHAM, England (CMC) — Charismatic Tino Best astonishingly struck the highest score by a number 11 in Test history, while Denesh Ramdin stroked his second Test century before embroiling himself in controversy as West Indies dominated the fourth day of the final Test here yesterday.
The right-handed Best, playing his first Test in three years, smashed an entertaining 95 before falling agonisingly short of three figures to help propel West Indies to 426 all out at Edgbaston.
Ramdin, starting the day on 60, stroked an unbeaten 107 but spoiled a fine innings when he celebrated his landmark by producing a piece of paper with the words "Yeah Viv Talk Nah" scribbled, and pointing it towards the media centre.
The action was in response to earlier criticism levelled at Ramdin by legendary West Indies batsman Sir Vivian Richards, now an analyst for BBC's Test Match Special, following West Indies' defeat at Trent Bridge.
Ramdin's extraordinary celebra-tion drew the rebuke of several media pundits and ex-cricketers and spoiled an otherwise superb innings.
The right-hander, recalled for this series after a spell on the sidelines owing to poor form, faced 183 balls in four hours and 50 minutes at the crease, and struck nine fours.
Ironically, his last century also came against England in Bridgetown three years ago.
Best, meanwhile, entertained the small crowd with a cameo, smashing 14 fours and a six off just 112 balls, to surpass the previous best by a number 11 — Zaheer Khan's 75 for India against Bangladesh eight years ago.
His previous highest score was 27 against Sri Lanka in Kandy seven years ago.
Ramdin and Best added 143, the highest last-wicket stand for West Indies against England and the third highest in Test history.
England then slumped to 49 for three before recovering to reach 221 for five at the close, thanks to a 137-run, fourth wicket stand between Kevin Pietersen who top-scored with a frenetic 78 off 81 balls and the stylish Ian Bell, who finished the day unbeaten on 76.
Best was once again in the thick of things, bowling with pace and hostility to lead the Windies attack with two for 37.
England's fightback also virtually ruled out any possibility of a result in the contest, after the first two days were abandoned because of rain.
Resuming the day on 280 for eight, West Indies lost Ravi Rampaul to to the third ball of the morning, caught behind off lanky pacer Steven Finn (3-109) without adding to his overnight two at 283 for nine, paving the way for the fireworks that followed.
Best started quietly before coming to life with a pair of thumping cover-driven boundaries off Finn in the day's third over before smashing seamer Graham Onions (4-88) through mid-off in the next over for his third four.
The right-hander then twice lofted Onion over cover for four in the bowler's fourth over of the morning and followed up with a pair of off-side boundaries in off-spinner Graeme Swann's first over of the day.
He belted pacer Tim Bresnan (3-111) to wide long-on to move to 49 before taking a short single to begin celebrations for his first ever Test 50.
Ramdin, meanwhile, dropped by Pietersen on 69 at 326 for nine, played second fiddle to Best but took two leg-side boundaries off Finn to move into the 90s and raise the century partnership.
He eventually reached his landmark with a single to backward square of Bresnan.
Best continued his remarkable innings and seemed set for a memorable hundred when Onions deceived him with a slower ball, 20 minutes into an extended morning session, for captain Andrew Strauss to take the skied catch running back from slip.
The Windies fast bowlers then removed Alistair Cook (four), Jonathan Trott (17) and Strauss (17) all cheaply to leave England on 49 for three, 70 minutes after lunch.
Cook played across a straight one from Rampaul and was lbw in the fourth over of the innings at 13 for one and after Strauss and Trott rebuilt in a 27-run second wicket stand, Trott chopped on to Darren Sammy in the West Indies captain's second over of his first spell.
Strauss then slashed at one angled across him from Best for Darren Bravo at first slip to hold a stinging catch at head height.
Pietersen and Bell consolidated, playing with assurance against the pace attack and debutant off-spinner Sunil Narine, to haul England back into contention.
The right-handed Pietersen struck 11 fours and a six, while Bell was more reserved in an innings that has required 138 balls, 144 minutes and included 10 fours.
Off-spinner Marlon Samuels eventually removed Pietersen to a catch at slip by Sammy at 186 for four and Best ended his most memorable day in international cricket by bowling Jonny Bairstow through the gate for 18, 16 minutes before the close.