Sarwan does it!
...Hits first century
By Tony Cozier in DHAKA
December 3, 2002
RAMNARESH SARWAN finally, and at the last possible moment, conquered his own Everest under the lights at the Bangubandhu Stadium here last night.
The maiden international hundred that stood as insurmountable as the Himalayas' highest and most daunting summit for nearly three agonising years was reached off the last ball of the West Indies' innings in their 84-run victory in the second one-day international against Bangladesh.
As he edged a desperate and uncharacteristic slog off medium-pacer Tapash Baisya to the third man boundary to move from 98 to 102, a smile as wide as the Demerara river spread across the engaging young Guyanese's face.
His partner Daren Ganga hugged him in a meaningful embrace and his teammates in the pavilion rose to acclaim him as they have never been able to do before.
It was an unmistakable combination of joy and relief for the achievement had repeatedly eluded the 22-year-old Sarwan, as gifted a young batsman as there is in the contemporary game.
This was his 75th innings for the West Indies since his unbeaten 86 against Pakistan on Test debut at Kensington Oval in April 2000, his 27th in one-day internationals to go with the 48 in Tests. Twenty times he had passed 50 without carrying on to three figures.
Only two weeks ago, in the one-day series against India in Ahmedabad, he was left on the brink, unbeaten 99 when he could only gather two from the last ball off the innings.
As with every breakthrough - Hilary's ascent of Everest, Roger Bannister's four-minute mile, John Thomas' seven-foot high jump - other hundreds are bound to follow.
This was no flash-in-the-pan. It was simply an overdue inevitability. It featured strokes of exquisite timing and placement, especially precise cuts and cover drives that brought him most of his 11 fours, and required only 100 balls, 37 for his second 50.
If it was against a team as yet undeserving of the elevated status bestowed on it two years ago by the International Cricket Conference (ICC) for cynical political, and not sound cricketing reasons, it still required skill, patience and judgement.
Sarwan and another of the exciting young West Indian batsmen of the day, 21-year-old Marlon Samuels, had to carefully rebuild a faltering innings on a pitch of such low bounce that shins and ankles were initially in constant danger.
Their third wicket partnership of 146 off 160 balls was the basis of a total of 266 for four that was always beyond the limited Bangladeshis.
Vasbert Drakes, repeating his demolition of the top order in the abandoned opening match, committed the home team to its fate with the first three wickets, the first off the first ball, the next two off successive balls in the ninth over.
In spite of a classy 44 by 18-year-old Mohammed Ashraful, already a century-maker in Tests, against Sri Lanka a year ago, they were all out for 182 in 48 overs, their 26th successive defeat in such matches.
Yet Bangladesh began promisingly.
The two heavy-scoring, cavalier West Indies openers of the preceding victorious series in India, Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle, were dismissed for 37 within the first 12.2 overs of controlled seam bowling by the left-arm Manjural Islam and the right-arm Tapash Baisya.
It meant Sarwan and Samuels had to play with such due care and attention that they did not find the boundary for 46 balls.
The score inched to 77 for two at the half-way point of the innings, after 25 overs, and only after Samuels escaped a low chance to extra-cover at 14.
He was 27 when he was reprieved again, ICC umpire David Shepherd disallowing a run out claim on the grounds that he was impeded in a collison with bowler Mohammed Raffique as he attempted a single to mid-wicket.
It was a pivotal moment in the innings. The West Indies would have been 85 for three in the 28th over and still struggling to gain momentum.
Suddenly, Sarwan and Samuels began to play languid, uninhibited strokes on a pitch that became more predictable as the game progressed and the West Indies took control.
After his run out let-off, Samuels added 65 off 46 balls with two effortless leg-side sixes and four fours until he missed a full toss from off-spinner Naimur Rehman and was bowled in the 39th over for 82 (119 balls, two sixes, seven fours).
The last 10 overs produced 78. Sarwan's share was 42 and Ganga came at the end to rustle up 21 from 23 balls, including a clean straight six off left-arm spinner Mohammed Raffique.
After Drakes' initial demolition, Jermaine Lawson compensated for two ragged opening overs with a more accurate second spell, Mahendra Nagamootoo claimed two middle order wickets and Drakes and Cameron Cuffy returned at the end to formalise the result that had been long since been obvious to the 20,000 disappointed spectators.
The third and final match in the series is at the same venue and same time today.