Cricket: Holder proves vital prop as W Indies falter

West Indies 239-7 v India
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Anil Kumble's quick top-spinners and leg-breaks earned an early advantage for India on the opening day of the second Test here yesterday.

He claimed four of the first five wickets as the West Indies stumbled to 169 for 6 just after tea but India's advance was checked by an innings of character by Roland Holder, who finished unbeaten on 71 with the West Indies 239 for 7. In only his second Test of a career that started for Barbados when he was in his teens, Holder approached a difficult situation with a positive attitude and has batted without blemish for three and a quarter hours.

He shared restoring partnerships of 50 for the fifth wicket with Carl Hooper, who was again the victim of a soft dismissal after making 40, and of 51 for the seventh wicket with Curtly Ambrose, who became Kumble's fifth victim in the final session after the day's third break for rain. it was the ninth time India's leading spinner had claimed at least half the opposition wickets in a Test innings. He finished with 5 for 95.

Kumble, who collected eight wickets in the drawn first Test and whose experience of 35 Tests makes him essential to India's cause, started the West Indies' problems by removing the openers, Stuart Williams and Sherwin Campbell, in each of his first two overs. Williams was caught at silly point off pad and bat, Campbell at extra cover from a leading edge as he on-drove.

Kumble also removed Brian Lara for a duck off a mis-timed off-drive. Some 8,000 of Lara's countrymen in the stands settled in for some typical revelry, but their hero was not himself. He had damaged his glistened silver-grey Mercedes Coupe in an accident on Wednesday and he certainly seemed out of sorts for the 65 minutes he was in.

Five minutes before lunch he edged a drive off the left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi to be well held low down at slip by Mohammed Azharuddin for 14. Shivnarine Chanderpaul yet again was well entrenched with Hooper when he fell for 42 driving at the fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad. Holder and Hooper then took command until Kumble dispatched first Hooper, to Azharuddin's second catch at slip off a nondescript cut and then induced a return catch from Junior Murray.

The West Indies replaced the injured Ian Bishop with yet another fresh face, the tall Trinidadian paceman with Hampshire connections, Mervyn Dillon.

First day; West Indies won toss

WEST INDIES - First Innings

S L Campbell c Prasad b Kumble 8

S C Williams c Dravid b Kumble 18

S Chanderpaul c Mongia b Prasad 42

B C Lara c Azharuddin b Joshi 14

C L Hooper c Azharuddin b Kumble 40

R I C Holder not out 71

J R Murray c and b Kumble 11

C E L Ambrose c Dravid b Kumble 16

F A Rose not out 13

Extras (lb1, nb1) 6

Total (for 7) 239

Fall: 1-26, 2-29, 3-59, 4-99, 5-149, 6-169, 7-220.

To bat: M Dillon, *C A Walsh.

Bowling: Prasad 20-7-47-1 (nb1); Kuruvilla 17-9-29-0; Kumble 34-7-95- 5; Joshi 18-2-63-1.

INDIA: V V S Laxman, N S Sidhu, R S Dravid, *S R Tendulkar, S Ganguly, M Azharuddin, N R Mongia, A Kumble, S Joshi, A Kuruvilla, B K V Prasad.

Umpires: L Barker (WI) and S Randell (Aus).

Match referee: P van der Merwe (SA).