The Shiv, Nash show
FOR THE first time in this match, the sun shone continuously. And the West Indies batsmen warmed to their work.Putting behind them their struggles in the first Test, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash notched attractive centuries before the first genuine crowd at Warner Park for the match.The fans enjoyed themselves as the most dependable players on the Windies team batted their side towards safety in this second Digicel Test against South Africa.They were able to enjoy Chanderpaul right to the end.He earned the individual congratulations of all the South African players as he left the field on an undefeated 151 and the West Indies on 424 for four in their first innings. They will still be 119 runs adrift of South Africa’s first innings total of 543 when Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo (21 not out) resume this morning. But yesterday’s effort took the home team a long way to being comfortable in this game.Yet again his teammates owed a big debt to the “Tiger.”Chanderpaul spent five and three-quarter hours at the crease. The bulk of that time was with his fellow left-hander Nash. It was an emotional day for Nash. Asked to play out of position in the first Test and twice falling cheaply, he responded to being dropped back to his more familiar No. 5 with his second century in Tests – 114 – before he ran himself out.Chanderpaul, quite familiar with three-figure scores, got his fifth against the South Africans and 22nd overall. His celebration was typical, a kneel and kiss of the pitch.But for Nash, there was a triumphant leap into the air in the direction of the South stand where his parents, wife and four-year-old daughter were seated.It was fitting too, that the shot that earned him that chance to leap had been a pull off a fast bowler. Dale Steyn, with the second new ball, was pounded to the midwicket boundary for the 100 and then again to celebrate the landmark.The blows typified the spirit in which Nash played this innings. From the start when he replaced Narsingh Deonarine, he seemed intent on not letting the South African bowlers dictate to him.More comfortable as an accumulator, he was more of the aggressor in this innings and succeeded in countering the expected short pitched examination from Steyn and Morkel after his struggles against them in Trinidad.There were lots of runs in the strip but they did not come without some pain for the Windies batsmen. Deonarine (65, five fours one six) was struck on the helmet by a Morkel bouncer which rocketed off his helmet to the third man boundary. England’s World Cup striker Wayne Rooney might have hit the target with such a header. Later when he was only 15, Chanderpaul needed the ice pack treatment on his chin after being struck by a Steyn delivery which followed him.But the placidness of the pitch meant that such torrid moments were short-lived.Nash was not struck. But he too had to keep his eyes on the ball to avoid serious damage. He dealt out his own punishment however, pulling hard and safely against the fast men and upper-cutting in typical style, once for a spectacular six to that South Stand off Morkel after the second new ball had been taken. That was in the final session. And it had been a long time since the bowlers had taken a wicket. It was a slow day that way.Captain Chris Gayle was the only casualty in the first session. Resuming on 42 with Deonarine, Gayle had progressed to an even 50 (eight fours) – his second of the series – when he drove at Morkel and succeeded only in dragging the ball onto his stumps. The captain’s focus evidently had not returned first delivery after the water break. He and Deonarine had taken the score to 106 with their second-wicket stand of 93.Deonarine and Chanderpaul added a further 45. In a slow first session held up by a late start because of damp areas on the square from early morning rain, a brief sprinkle and Chanderpaul’s injury, just 40 were added.But 110 came between lunch and tea with the only loss being Deonarine. The left-hander got to his second 50 at this level in the final over before lunch bowled by left-arm spinner Paul Harris.However, he gave up the chance for his first hundred when he chopped a delivery too close to him from Steyn going round the wicket, onto his stumps.It was the Chanderpaul and Nash show after that. With the warm sun on their backs and an accommodating pitch in front their faces, the Windies batsmen took advantage.