Windies claim day four after Best heroics

England

Aside from two breaks in play for bad light after tea, day four of the third and final Test between England and the West Indies at Edgbaston was full of action and excitement from both sides.

Aside from two breaks in play for bad light after tea, day four of the third and final Test between England and the West Indies at Edgbaston was full of action and excitement from both sides.

Tino Best and Denesh Ramdin stole the headlines for the visitors after a record-breaking partnership for the 11th wicket in the morning session, while Kevin Pietersen (78) and Ian Bell (76 not out) scored half-centuries in the afternoon as England ended the day on 221 for five, still 205 runs behind.

The Windies started the day on 280 for eight, seemingly on the verge of being skittled. It looked exactly like that would be the case when Steve Finn dismissed Ravi Rampaul with the third delivery of the day, but Best had other ideas and came in to join Ramdin as they took their score to an eventual 426 all out.

Best ended his innings an agonising five runs short of his maiden century, but along the way he smashed the world record for a number 11 in Tests, besting Zaheer Khan's 75. He and Ramdin also posted the West Indies' highest 11th wicket partnership, and the best such partnership by anyone against England.

The other newsworthy story of the day was Ramdin's century celebrations, during which he held out a note aimed at Sir Viv Richards, reading, "Yea Viv, talk nah (now)". This little bit of poorly-spelled cheek was in response to Richards' recently opinion that Ramdin seemed 'lost' in innings of late, and that he had not lived up to his early potential.

Given that Richards was being paid to commentate and give his opinion, and that Ramdin's century on day four was only his second in 77 Test innings, many, including an infuriated Michael Holding, felt that Sir Viv had a point. The controversy coloured what would have been a great knock for the wicketkeeper, as he ended the innings on 107 not out.

England's innings, which began after lunch, did not start well, with the Windies pacemen fired up after their aggressively wagging tail entertained the crowds in the morning. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Andrew Strauss all found themselves back in the hut before the score reached 50, leaving KP and Bell to save the day by posting a partnership of 137.

Pietersen eventually fell for 78, smartly caught by Sammy at slip off Marlon Samuels, who gave the batsmen a lot more problems than Sunil Narine did, after a second delay due to bad light. This left Jonny Bairstow to play alongside Bell, and the Yorkshireman did well to deal with the short deliveries sent his way, but he was bowled by Best with a few overs to go for 18.

England sent in Steve Finn as nightwatchman for the final five overs of the day, and the West Indies would have been pleased with the way their bowlers recovered from the KP/Bell onslaught and would consider themselves the winners of the day's play.

On the bowling front, it was slim pickings on a flat wicket, as England's pacemen got smashed around for the entire morning session. Aside from the Finn wicket in the first over, and Onions bagging Best before lunch, the West Indies had nothing to fear as they went about their business.

Best hit 14 boundaries and one six in his innings, and Ramdin saw nine fours fly off his blade. KP and Bell also had a good time of it once the early threat passed, and each had eight boundaries by the time bad light intervened for the first time.

The big angle everyone was watching for was to see how well Narine would do on his Test debut. The young spinner, who made such a splash in the IPL and was hyped up beyond measure before this match, did not prove as mysterious as pundits had hoped, as KP in particular had no trouble reading him.

Narine, to be fair, was not assisted by the wicket, and had a sharp catch dropped at short leg, but he went for 70 runs in 15 overs, at an economy rate higher than he conceded for the Kolkata Knight Riders, and sans a wicket.

Day five's weather forecast is not ideal, and with a full day unlikely to be played, it's likely the batsmen will play to secure a draw and boost their averages.

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