Ambrose bounces back

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The Independent Online
REVITALISED by the sight of an extraordinarily green pitch, his team's uncomfortable position in the series and, no doubt, public doubts over his form, Curtly Ambrose put the West Indies in control of the crucial third Test against Australia here in Trinidad.

Bounding in from the same Pavilion End from which he routed England for their all-out 46 a year ago, the Antiguan finished with figures of five for 45 as Australia were dismissed for 128 in their first innings. But the tourists struck back when Stuart Williams and captain Richie Richardson, an experimental West Indies opening pair, failed once more against purposeful bowling from Paul Reiffel and Glenn McGrath, and the home nation were on 27 for two at lunch. Brian Lara was unbeaten on 15 with Jimmy Adams seven not out at the break.

Williams, the 25-year-old right-handed opener, had scored 1, 10, 16 and 31 not out in his previous four innings and his place in the team now looks in doubt after he edged a defensive shot at a ball from Reiffel. The ball whipped into the safe hands of Mark Taylor, the Australian captain, at first slip, and Williams was out without scoring.

Richardson has struggled through this series with 75 runs from four innings, and he looks a shadow of the batsman who has scored eight of his 15 Test centuries against Australia.

For 45 minutes he tried to rediscover his touch, but any plans he had were brought to an end by a highly dubious decision by the English umpire, David Shepherd.

The West Indies captain was given out to a catch behind when it appeared that an inswinging delivery from McGrath grazed the outside of his bat. Television replays showed the ball was nowhere near his bat or body, but Richardson trudged off with two to his name.

This made some amends for Australia's terrible start on Friday when Ambrose removed Taylor, Mark Waugh and David Boon in an opening spell of 12 overs. By tea, they were 112 for seven and Ambrose was raring to clean up the tail. But rain prevented further play.

Steve Waugh was carrying Australia's fight almost single-handed despite a couple of blows to the body, one of which required on-the-field medical attention to his left forearm.

Australia's woes began even before a ball was delivered when Taylor called tails for the sixth consecutive time on tour - and the coin landed on heads yet again

It did not take long for the Australians to discover that it was going to be a rough day. Michael Slater withdrew from a leg cutter from Courtney Walsh too late and edged the third ball of the second over to the wicketkeeper. Off the second ball of the next over, Taylor prodded a catch from bat, then pad, to short leg to provide Ambrose with the first of his wickets. Mark Waugh was the second, fishing at one outside off stump and giving the wicketkeeper Junior Murray a right-handed catch.

At 14 for 3, Australia depended heavily on their two most experienced batsmen, Boon and Steve Waugh, to revive their innings. Boon received a mixed reception as he walked out in his 100th Test. He survived two deliveries from Walsh as difficult as any he might have ever faced.

When it rained after 55 minutes Boon and Waugh were still together. On resumption after lunch Ambrose, settling down after his set-to with Waugh, produced the perfect leg cutter to end Boon's resistance that had lasted 70 minutes, Richardson snared the resulting edge at third slip.

Ambrose was relieved after 12 overs but there was no respite for the Australians. Greg Blewett was caught behind off the inside edge off Winston Benjamin, Ian Healy was taken on the rebound from Murray's gloves by Richardson off Walsh, and Brendon Julian stabbed a sharp catch to Jimmy Adams off Kenny Benjamin just before tea.

(West Indies won toss; Second day)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

(overnight: 112 for 7)

S R Waugh not out 63

P Reiffel c Lara b Walsh 11

S K Warne b Ambrose 0

G D McGrath c Murray b Ambrose 0

Extras (lb6 w1) 7

Total 128

Fall (cont): 8-121 9-128.

Bowling: Ambrose 16-5-45-5; Walsh 17-4-50-3, W.Benjamin 6-3-13-1 (1w), K.Benjamin 8-2-14-1.

WEST INDIES - First Innings

*R B Richarson c Healy b McGrath 2

S C Williams c Taylor b Reiffel 0

B C Lara not out 15

J Adams not out 7

Extras 3

Total (for 2) 27