Shiv reflects on his record-breaking 133rd Test

Roseau, Dominica – It was his 133rd Test match, a record making him the most capped West Indian, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul found himself having to bat his team out of trouble. The champion left-hander had done it many times before in his outstanding career, and everyone backed him to deliver another back-to-the-wall performance. Chanderpaul delivered another master class in front the sell-out crowd at Windsor Park, as they came to see the country’s first Test match. It was gripping and entertaining cricket as the Indian bowlers all tried in vain to conquer the lion-hearted Chanderpaul. In the end he stayed steadfast at crease for over eight hours and was involved in two match-saving partnerships with debutant Kirk Edwards and tail-ender Fidel Edwards. Chanderpaul ended with an unbeaten 116 – an innings he rates among his “best because of the situation”. It came from a whopping 343 balls and the effort was deemed worthy of the Man-of-the-Match award. It added more weight to his statistics which now read: 9,367 runs at an average of 49.04 per innings with 23 centuries and 55 half-centuries. “I would say this was one my best because of the situation of the team when I went in to bat and the way the game was going. To be batting on a fifth day pitch and the way the ball was bouncing and turning – some would grip and bounce and you weren’t always sure which way the ball would go. You had to be very patient and very watchful and careful. “You couldn’t play as freely as you would have liked to so I had to use all my skills and it took a lot of mental effort as well. Also, Dhoni blocked up all the areas where you had scoring opportunities and it was a lot of hard work. It was really tough out there,” the 36-year-old outlined on reflection. Chanderpaul was high in praise for debutant Kirk Edwards who marked the occasion with a century of his own. “Kirk on the debut? Oh man, he batted brilliantly! He took the challenge to Harbhajan and that helped us a lot. He was not afraid to take the attack to the bowlers. “He was positive and had the right mindset. He was not afraid. He played it his way and did what he knows and what he does best. “It was a great effort for someone to come in under so much pressure and play the way he did. I had a discussion with Kirk and we were talking about the 20s and the 30s (which Chanderpaul was scoring previously in the series). He told me to put that behind and we worked towards the team goals which was building big partnerships and pulling the team out of the trouble we were in.” Chanderpaul added: “Obviously we were talking about partnerships and trying to get it to grow as big as possible. Given the situation we were in, we needed to make sure we went on and on and take it all the way to the end and strive not to lose the match. “A lot of things were happening. Harbhajan was getting the ball to really spin and bounce and the seamers were attacking at the start and after that they were patient and looked to bowl to one side (of the wicket). We had to bat and bat and get the job done. Looking back, it’s always a great achievement to get the Man-of-the-Match award and doing it for the team.” Half-way through the innings it was announced that the Government of Dominica had awarded Chanderpaul citizenship of the island nation in recognition of his contribution to the game of cricket and reaching the milestone of 133 Test matches – the most by a West Indian. The record is one of the high points of his career. His purple patch was three years ago when he was named the International Cricket Council’s Cricketer of the Year and won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy. He was also named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2008. “I want to thank the people of Dominica. It was a privilege and an honour to be named a citizen of the country and I happily accepted it. The crowd was very good to us over the five days of the Test match and even last year when we played the One-Day games against South Africa. “It’s a really nice place to play cricket and I was really pleased that we could give them something to cheer about. They really wanted to see some good cricket. Even though we were in a situation where we could have lost the game, they still wanted to see some cricket on the field. They were delighted to support us and rally around the team.” He continued: “I’m extremely pleased to reach this milestone. I believe it is a really big occasion. High point? I’m still looking for it. There is still more to come. Whatever knowledge and experience I have gained I would like to pass it on and help the other members of the team with their game. “I gained a lot of knowledge by sitting and listening to other people who I played with over the years. “I used to listen to Courtney (Walsh) and Curtly (Ambrose). I would sit in the middle of them and they would pass information and I would just be happy to hear their views on cricket. I’m a batsman and I got to understand the way the bowlers would think and that is how I learned a lot – just by listening and learning. I want to help the others in this team get better as individuals and for all of us to get better as a team.”
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