CRICKET: Hooper's innings tips the balance

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CRICKET

TONY COZIER

reports from Bridgetown

West Indies 257

Australia 251-6

West Indies win by 6 runs

The West Indies and Australia battled to an exciting climax in the first of their five one-day internationals here yesterday, immediately confirming the impression that the two teams will provide a close and exciting series.

In the end, a West Indies total of 257 from 49.4 overs proved just too much and Australia were beaten by six runs amid scenes of jubilant excitement in a crowd of 14,000.

The West Indies innings was dominated by Carl Hooper's run-a-ball 84 that began in the potential crisis of 87 for 3 when Phil Simmons and the captain,, Richie Richardson, were dismissed in quick succession and Shane Warne threatened to cast his spell over the home batsmen.

Warne removed Simmons for 37 with the fourth ball of his second over, a perfectly-pitched, huge leg-break that took the edge to be caught at slip, and he constantly troubled the left-handed Brian Lara and Richardson.

Hooper's response was swift, calculated and decisive. Stepping out of his ground, he lofted the blond leg-spinner for a straight four and then stepped back two balls later to late-cut him delicately for another boundary. The over cost nine runs, the captain Mark Taylor immediately replaced Warne and Hooper hardly played a false shot after that. Lara, unusually circumspect, lent him ideal support in a partnership of 68 from 11 overs.

Lara fell to the medium-pacer, Greg Blewett, for 55, made from 73 balls, while his fellow left-hander, Jimmy Adams, went three runs later. Hooper received essential support from the lower order before he was finally caught in the deep off a skier from Craig McDermott, having struck a six and eight fours.

Even on an ideal batting pitch and fast outfield in bright sunny weather, Australia's target was daunting and when Courtney Walsh removed Taylor for 41 and Mark Waugh for 29 in the 23rd over to leave Australia 94 for 3, the West Indies seemed to have the match wrapped up. But David Boon, a veteran of 178 one-day internationals, remained to continue the challenge. He was still there at the end with 85, from 85 balls, with seven fours, receiving vital assistance from Steve Waugh, 26, and Blewett, 33.

Australia started the last 10 overs still requiring 79, but Hooper's earlier work with the bat was almost undone with the ball as he conceded 46 from five overs as Australia came closer to their target.

The recall of Walsh and Ambrose, both with more than 150 one-day international victims, put paid to that - just.

(West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES

P V Simmons c Taylor b Warne 37

S C Williams c Healy b Reiffel 11

B C Lara c Taylor b Blewett 55

*R B Richardson run out 9

C L Hooper c May b McDermott 84

J C Adams c M Waugh b McDermott 2

J R Murray c Healy b M Waugh 12

W K R Benjamin c May b McDermott 22

V C Drakes c Warne b M Waugh 9

C E L Ambrose c Taylor b M Waugh 0

C A Walsh not out 6

Extras (b1 lb3 w1 nb5) 10

Total (49.4 overs) 257

Fall: 1-26 2-69 3-87 4-155 5-158 6-191 7-241 8-242 9-246.

Bowling: McDermott 10-0-25-3; Reiffel 10-1-50-1; M Waugh 6.4-0-42-3; Warne 10-0-56-1; Blewett 8-0-44-1; May 5-0-36-0.

AUSTRALIA

*M A Taylor c Simmons b Walsh 41

M J Slater c Adams b Benjamin 21

M E Waugh c Murray b Walsh 29

D C Boon not out 85

S R Waugh b Drakes 26

G S Blewett c Walsh b Ambrose 33

I A Healy run out 0

P R Reiffel not out 10

Extras (lb1 w5) 6

Total (for 6, 50 overs) 251

Fall: 1-50 2-94 3-94 4-156 5-235 6-236.

Did not bat: S K Warne, C J McDermott, T B A May.

Bowling: Ambrose 10-1-43-1; Walsh 10-1-52-2; Benjamin 6.1-0-24-1; Drakes 9.5-0-39-1; Hooper 5-0-46-0; Simmons 9-0-46-0.

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