Cricket: Hooper lays foundation

West Indies 300-4 v India
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Brian Lara and Carl Hooper exposed the frailties of limited Indian bowling on a lifeless pitch to build a commanding position for the West Indies on the opening day of the first Test here yesterday.

They came together in mid-afternoon when the Indians had done commendably to restrict the home team to 143 for 3.

Lara had reached an unbothered 83 in three hours when a casual flick off his legs against the second new ball provided a low catch to wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia and gave India's Test debutant Abey Kuruvilla, a tall slim bowler of just above medium pace from Bombay, a deserving second wicket. But Hooper saw through the day to be 87 not out with the West Indies still formidably placed at 300 for 4.

The Indian attack, short of penetration at the best of times, had been diminished even before the tour started last week when their classy fast bowler Javagal Srinath aggravated tendinitis in his bowling shoulder and was obliged to return to South Africa to seek the attention of the specialists who had successfully treated it a few months ago. Predictably, he was badly missed.

Yet Kuruvilla, his replacement with the new ball, produced a telling opening spell, plucking out the off stump of opener Stuart Williams with a perfectly disguised change of pace after nine overs. He and his colleagues then pinned down Sherwin Campbell and the left-handed Shivnarine Chanderpaul to such an extent that they each laboured for an hour and three-quarters without ever being able to break free.

Campbell fell, cutting the left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi, for 40 and Chanderpaul went, also to a catch behind the wicket, off the fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad for 52.

The entry of Lara still, as he was in Australia, at No 4 rather than his natural No 3, had changed the momentum with his positive strokeplay and Hooper followed his example. It was a surprise when Lara fell as the shadows lengthened across Sabina Park, a welcome, if belated, boost for the Indians who could have anticipated a desperate second day had the little left-hander remained.

First day; West Indies won toss

WEST INDIES - First Innings

S L Campbell c Mongia b Joshi 40

S C Williams b Abey Kuruvilla 23

S Chanderpaul c Mongia b Prasad 52

B C Lara c Mongia b Kuruvilla 83

C L Hooper not out 87

I R Bishop not out 3

Extras (lb4, nb8) 12

Total (for 4, 90 overs) 300

Fall: 1-41 2-96 3-143 4-290.

To bat: R I C Holder, J R Murray, F A Rose, C E L Ambrose, *C A Walsh.

Bowling: Prasad 21-4-90-1; Kuruvilla 18-4-46-2; Kumble 21-2-61-0; Joshi 20-5-68-1; Ganguly 7-1-17-0; Laxman 3-0-14-0.

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: S Bucknor (WI) and M Kitchen (Eng). TV replay Umpire: J Gayle (WI).

Match Referee: P van der Merwe (SA).