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Rain winner

Garth Wattley

Rain winner

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It was not for the want of trying that the second Digicel cricket Test match between West Indies and Australia was drawn yesterday.
Michael Clarke and Darren Sammy did what they could to produce a positive result right up until 2:10 p.m. at the Queen’s Park Oval when umpires Ian Gould and Marais Erasmus took the players off for bad light, just ahead of the arrival of light but persistent rain.
At that time, Sammy was on 30 from just 26 balls (four fours, one six) and Darren Bravo eight, as West Indies reached 53 for two, going at 215 to win and level the series.
It stayed just that way.
The teams could not overcome the rain which had over the five days of the game, taken away crucial chunks of time. Still, the action on the final day was anything but dreary. And the schoolchildren in the small crowd were as keyed up as anyone else when the match was halted.
First, they had seen Kemar Roach step forward for the second time in the match to bag a five-wicket haul and limit Australia to 160 for eight in their second innings. They then saw Clarke offer the West Indies a reasonable chance to chase victory with his declaration after lunch and a possible 61 overs left to play.
Then, with the dismissal of Kieran Powell in the second over (six for one), Sammy himself came out of the Brian Lara Pavilion to take on the Aussies. His courageous move, so full of positive intent, deserved to be played out to a natural conclusion.
At least, however, Sammy and his players will go to Dominica this morning knowing they still have a chance of saving the series.  
Roach will also know, that for him, all things are possible right now.
The 23-year-old, from St Lucy, the parish that also gave the West Indies Charlie Griffith, had the distinction of becoming the first West Indies bowler since fellow Barbadian Corey Collymore against Pakistan in 2005 to take ten wickets in a Test, following his 18-4-41-5 yesterday.
“I definitely have to congratulate Kemar,” Sammy said after the game. “He had a tough year last year, dropped catches, and he was not bowling as well as he could  . . . . This year, he (has) started so well.”
A gold chain bouncing around his neck as vigorously as ever, Roach proved compelling viewing for both spectators and the opposition.
If the Australian batsmen took their eyes off him, they were likely to either have their stumps violently disturbed or become lbw?candidates, so regularly did Roach make them play. His direct, off-cutting line of attack had been a feature of the entire second innings, beginning on the fourth day when he removed David Warner and Shane Watson in his first over.
His impact was not immediate this time, pace partner Fidel Edwards and Sammy being the ones to reduce Australia to 123 for five at lunch.
Play, scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., had been delayed initially by 45 minutes due to a damp outfield.
But when it began, Edwards finally got his first, fully deserved wicket of the match when Ricky Ponting (41, three fours) fell for the hook trap, playing one of his favourite shots straight down to Powell at deep midwicket.
Ponting, resuming with Clarke with Australia on 73, had added a further 20 with his skipper, who soon joined him in the dressing room. With just two runs added, Sammy, in his second over in place of Roach, stuck his right hand out in the nick of time on his follow through to hold a fine return catch offered by Clarke (15) and reduce the Aussies to 95 for five.
The lead was then 177. Sammy had got the balance between attacking and saving runs just about right.
Michael Hussey and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade took their side to lunch. Hussey (24, two fours, one six) signalled his intent straight after lunch with a six over long-off off Narsingh Deonarine to begin the session. But then Roach intervened.
Taking over at the Pavilion end, he got run-seeking Hussey to drag an attempted steer onto his stumps at 145. And on the same score, he smacked Ben Hilfenhaus’ off-stump to make it ten for the match. The late Malcolm Marshall, an Oval giant whose photo now adorns the ground’s eastern wall, would have been proud.
Shane Shillingford then prompted Clarke to show his hand when he had Nathan Lyon top-edging a sweep which Sammy caught at slip.
It was clear what the Aussies wanted. Clarke was going for the win even though he was short a bowler with James Pattinson due to return home, along with Peter Siddle, because of back injuries.
And when Powell, promoted to open instead of Kraigg Brathwaite, became an lbw?victim in the second over for the second time in the match, this time to Hilfenhaus (4-0-22-2), Sammy made his play.
“We were going after the runs and making a positive statement,” he said.
Certainly, the skipper was not to be deterred, even when Hilfenhaus also removed Adrian Barath (five) via a catch to first slip in the fourth over.
Boundaries through midwicket, over the offside field, through cover and a straight six off Hilfenhaus in an over costing 14 runs kept the crowd interested and the Australians in expectation.
But then, it just got too dark to keep up the chase.
And too wet.