Ambrose joins the 300 club

Sri Lanka 223 West Indies 56-1
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The Independent Online
Curtly Ambrose, playing in front of his home fans, exploited a venomous pitch to take 5 for 37 on the opening day of the first Test here yesterday to join the elite group of bowlers who have taken 300 Test wickets. Only Sanath Jayasuriya and his captain Arjuna Ranatunga, with a left-handed partnership of 110, resisted the onslaught as Sri Lanka battled to 223 in the first Test between the teams in the Caribbean.

Ambrose removed opener Roshan Mahamana and Russell Arnold with successive balls in his second over and the Aravinda de Silva in his next over to leave the Sri Lankan's tottering at 23 for 3. Sent in, there seemed no way out against Ambrose and his three fast-bowling accomplices as the ball climbed steeply and moved sharply off the seam. But only Ambrose observed the necessary length and line and Jayasuriya and Ranatunga withstood the several, inevitable body blows they suffered.

Jayasuriya must have felt like a Mike Tyson victim as three times he was sent to his knees by deliveries from Ambrose that thudded in to his left glove, his box and, from Ian Bishop, the grill of his helmet. Each time he received lengthy attention. At the opposite end, Ranatunga was in his usual pugnacious mood and both punished anything wayward of which there was much.

It took a needless runout midway through the afternoon to separate them, Ranatuga driving a no-ball from Courtney Walsh and committing himself while his partner followed the ball. He was well out on Ambrose's throw to the keeper.

The Sri Lankans quickly suffered two more setbacks, Hashan Tillekeratne came to the wicket without protection on his forearm and immediately took a blow on it from Ian Bishop and was obliged to retire. Forty minutes later, Jayasuriya's bold innings of 85 was ended when he drove over a faster ball that drifted with the arm from off-spinner Carl Hooper and hit his middle stump. In four hours he had hit two sixes, the second a remarkable square cut out of the ground into Independence Avenue off Bishop, and nine fours.

(West Indies won toss)

SRI LANKA - First innings

S T Jayasuriya b Hooper 85

R S Mahanama c Browne b Ambrose 1

R P Arnold c Williams b Ambrose 0

P A De Silva c Walsh b Ambrose 0

*A Ranatunga run out 42

H P Tillakaratne retired hurt 1

R S Kaluwitharana hit wicket b Bishop 23

K Dharmasena c Browne b Ambrose 29

R Pushpakumara c Reifer b Bishop 1

S De Silva c Reifer b Ambrose 6

M Muralitharan not out 6

Extras (b4 lb11 nb14) 29

Total (all out) 223

Fall: 1-19, 2-19, 3-23, 4-133, 5-171, 6-206, 7-210, 8-216, 9-223.

Bowling: Ambrose 13.1-3-37-5 (nb5), Bishop 15-3-46-2 (nb2), Walsh 11- 0-46-0 (nb4), Rose 10-2-30-0 (nb3), Hooper 19-2-49-1.

WEST INDIES: *C A Walsh, S L Campbell, S C Williams, B C Lara, C L Hooper, R I Holder, F L Reifer, C O Browne, I R Bishop, C E L Ambrose, F A Rose.

Umpires: L Barker (WI), S Dunne (NZ).

Match referee: Talat Ali (Pakistan).