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Windies tail deny England's victory bid

WEST Indies, so often guilty of crumbling under pressure, showed their newfound steel in holding on for a dramatic draw in the third test against England on Thursday.

Tailenders Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards hung on as the last wicket partnership for 10 tense overs to secure a draw and maintain their 1-0 lead with two of the five tests in the series remaining.

"That match was a test of our character," said Powell.

"Coming into this game we only had Tuesday as a proper practice session. After that it was chaos, with the problems with the run-up at the other ground. We came here and toiled in the sun as England made more than 500 and then we only could get 285."

Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put on 148 in a lengthy partnership that was the backbone of West Indies' resistance. Powell said they had set the tone.

"When you look at the way Sarwan and Shiv batted, it was left to everyone who came after them not to let them down, we had to go out and play straight and draw the game," he said.

"We all knew what the situation required. We said this morning (it was) important to occupy the crease and play as straight as possible because of the surface. Some balls were keeping a bit low and so it was important for us to keep the balls down the wicket and basically it worked for us today," said the Guyanese batsman.

Sarwan said the game, an enthralling battle that went right to the wire and in which he scored 200 runs over the two innings, was one that would stay long in his memory.

"Generally the test match was one of the best I have played in, in my entire career, something I will hold very close to my heart," he said.

"England played very well, you can't take anything away from them, but at the end Powell, Fidel and Sulieman Benn played really well."

Edwards is the weakest of West Indies tail but Powell said he had shown he was "cool" and "a fighter." Sarwan recalled the similar draw against India, three years ago, in what many thought was the last test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

"Before he went in to bat, he said to me 'why do I have to find myself in this situation all the time?'

"He saw the funny side of it, it showed his character. He showed it in the first two days in the hot sun, running in and bowled quickly.

"He gives his best effort."

"It's pretty tough to take," England skipper Andrew Strauss admitted. "We had to work exceptionally hard for our wickets in the fourth innings there. I thought we had just done enough. In that last session, the guys dug very, very deep. Freddie Flintoff was bowling on one leg and the rest of the seamers were very tired. So to get very close was a great effort but it's pretty tough to take."


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