Dominica: Shivnarine Chanderpaul seemed to have saved his best for a special occasion as his match saving innings of 116 against India in the third Test turned out to be one of his better efforts taking into consideration the team's situation at that point of time.
Chanderpaul walked into the middle in the third Test against India with scorecard reading 40 for three. 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 during his unbeaten 116-run knock.
"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," Chanderpaul was quoted as saying by a WICB release.
"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," he added.
The 36-year-old whose 343-ball 116 bagged him the Man-of-the-Match award and 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, heaped praise on debutant Kirk Edwards who also hit a crucial ton.
"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," explained Chanderpaul.
The veteran batsman termed the debutant's effort as a fantastic one. "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."
He confessed that building a partnership slowly was the key at that stage. "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," he added.
Chanderpaul also said that he and his partner were aware that they would have to go on batting if they intended to give their team any chance against the World No.1 Test side. "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."
While the Indian bowlers tried in vain to conquer Chanderpaul, who was playing record 133rd Test match for his country, the left-hander backed himself to deliver another back-to-the-wall performance in front the sell-out crowd at Windsor Park.
"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," he said.
Half-way through his 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.
"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."
Chanderpaul revealed that during his initial days he learnt a lot by listening to legends like Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose.
"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," he concluded.