Campbell carries fight

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The Independent Online
After a succession of unexpected twists and turns the Second Test remained evenly and intriguingly poised after two days yesterday. Australia, reduced to 131 for five midway through the first day, rallied to 331. The West Indies responded by the close with 156 for three.

West Indies' record on this ground, where they have won only twice, the last time in 1960-61, does not offer much hope as they try to level the series, although the pitch has lacked the character that was predicted to assist the threat of Australia's key bowler, the leg spinner Shane Warne.

The last time the West Indies were in Australia, Brian Lara's unforgettable 277 in the Third Test here provided the inspiration for their revival of spirit and Curtly Ambrose's incisive bowling secured the victories in the last two Tests to retain the cherished Frank Worrell trophy. For the moment both are even more out of sorts than Warne, who at least has the excuse of a spinning finger not yet fully recovered from an operation last May.

Ambrose has lacked the clinical menace that has earned him 266 Test wickets before this contest. He failed to take a wicket in the first innings of a Test for the first time since 1989 against India in Port of Spain.

Lara looks more vulnerable than he has ever done. He spent 20 unconvincing minutes scoring two yesterday before snicking a perfectly pitched leg- cutter from Glen McGrath to the keeper.

Ambrose's decline has placed additional responsibility on the captain, Courtney Walsh. As always he has worked manfully and raised immediate hopes that the Australian innings would be quickly terminated on resumption yesterday.

His second delivery of the day found the edge of Ian Healy's bat on its way into Lara's lap at first slip, ending a partnership of 93 with Greg Blewett that had exasperated the West Indies. Walsh then produced a chest threatening lifter that Blewett could do no more than prod into short- leg's grasp and Australia were 245 for seven. It was here that the monotony of the West Indies bowling was again exposed and the last three wickets raised 86.

Warne and Michael Kasprowicz both pulled heartily, the latter hoisting the only six of the innings over long leg off the tireless Walsh and, when they were both caught off mis-hit hook strokes, Jason Gillespie and McGrath spent just under an hour together adding 43 for the last wicket. McGrath's 24 doubled his previous best score and he was to have an even greater effect with the ball.

The openers Sherwin Campbell, whose magnificent 113 almost saved the First Test, and the left-handed Robert Samuels put together 92, the highest opening partnership for the West Indies in 27 Tests. But McGrath then claimed Samuels leg before offering no stroke and removed Lara soon afterwards. When Campbell was bowled by Blewett's inswinging yorker for 77 with 20 minutes remaining, Australia sniffed a chance, but Carl Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul saw out the close without further loss.

Second day; Australia won toss

Australia - First Innings

(Overnight 224-5)

G S Blewett c Adams b Walsh 69

I A Healy c Lara b Walsh 44

S K Warne c Browne b Bishop 28

M S Kasprowicz c Campbell b Walsh 21

J N Gillespie not out 16

G D McGrath lbw b Adams 24

Extras (nb18 w1 lb10) 29

Total (119.5 overs) 331

Fall: 1-54, 2-68, 3-73, 4-94, 5-131, 6-224, 7-245, 8-283, 9-288

Bowling: Ambrose 25-5-73-0, Walsh 30-6-98-5, Hooper 14-6-15-0; Bishop 23-5-55-3, Benjamin 22-4-69-1, Adams 5.5-1-11-1.

West Indies - First Innings

S L Campbell b Blewett 77

R G Samuels lbw b McGrath 35

B C Lara c Healy b McGrath 2

C L Hooper not out 27

S Chanderpaul not out 3

Extras (b3 lb2 nb7) 12

Total (for 3, 58 overs) 156

Fall: 1-92 2-108 3-136

To bat: J C Adams, C O Browne, I R Bishop, C E L Ambrose, *C A Walsh, K C G Benjamin

Bowling: McGrath 16-2-56-2, Kasprowicz 3-0-13-0, Gillespie 13-4-25-0, Warne 15-7-20-0, Blewett 4-0-13-1, Bevan 7-0-24-0

Umpires: D Shepherd (Eng) and D Hair (Aus)