LONDON — Shivnarine Chanderpaul has seen it all and pretty much done it all during a career spanning more than 20 years. But seldom, if ever, can his efforts have been more gratefully received than they were here by joyous Derbyshire team-mates and a small band of cheering supporters at Taunton today.
Victory for the visitors, by a nerve-tingling two wickets and with Chanderpaul unbeaten on 74, keeps the Great Escape story alive for a county that started life back in Division One with seven defeats and three draws from their first 10 matches.
They are now out of the bottom two – unlike Somerset, who trail by a point, and Surrey, who are a further 15 behind. And while Derbyshire’s next match, against title-favourites Durham, could not be tougher, there is a real of air of optimism around their camp.
“It’s a tremendous win,” head coach Karl Krikken, who bats and bowls every ball from the sidelines, said. “We felt 240 was a big ask on that pitch but a couple of the youngsters stood up and the main guy, Chanderpaul, took us home.
“Shiv has been superb for us this season without much luck, really. But this was a magnificent innings because he shepherded us all the way.”
Had Chanderpaul been caught at deep mid-on, as he really should have been, by Craig Meschede off the bowling of Piyush Chawla when on 64 and the winning line was still 21 runs away, the ending to this always absorbing match might have been entirely different. But the two-handed opportunity went to ground and Chanderpaul was not about to give another chance.
Typically modest after receiving the congratulations of friend and foe alike, Chanderpaul was quick to point out that victory had been a team effort.
“We showed fight all the way through,” he said. “We’ve got two tough games to go, against Durham and Warwickshire, but hopefully we can carry on like this.”
Opener Ben Slater, with 59, and budding all-rounder Alex Hughes, who contributed 33 precious runs to a sixth-wicket stand of 68 with Chanderpaul, were the two young batsmen referred to by Krikken.
But, as everyone knew when play resumed this morning with Derbyshire on 127 for 4 and 117 runs still needed, almost everything depended on Chanderpaul. He’s has had a far from vintage season, by his own high standards, and not won a match for the county while averaging below 40.
Here, though, he was calmness personified, pushing singles into tiny gaps, dealing with the spinning ball like the master craftsman he is and punishing bad balls with ruthless efficiency.
Piyush Chawla, who finished with 5 for 97 and 10 for 208 in the match, might have been the star turn — and probably would have taken the headlines had that catch been held. But really he released pressure far too often with freebie deliveries and was out-bowled by the highly promising left-arm spinner Jack Leach — whatever the scorecard suggests.
Somerset tried most things to disturb Chanderpaul’s concentration – even giving wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter a brief go with his offspin, but the Rock would not crumble.
Four wickets fell at the other end, the last of them with 28 still required. And when Chanderpaul started turning down singles to protect Tim Groenewald, the tension level increased by another notch. But no-one would have guessed Derbyshire’s main man was in a dog-fight, although the hug he gave his partner when four leg-byes completed the task showed just how much this win meant to him. (cricinfo)