Cricket: Murray stakes his claim for Test spot

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The Independent Online
A USEFUL second-wicket partnership of 62 off only 80 balls pushed the West Indies along to 95 for 3 in their second innings before bad light ended their four-day game against South Africa A at the Pietermaritzburg Oval yesterday.

The West Indies had been bowled out for 375 in their first innings, to which the hosts replied with 293.

"Any play is better than no play," said the West Indies coach, Malcolm Marshall, afterwards. "There were two pluses: Shivnarine Chanderpaul's 182 and the way Junior Murray batted. It was only Junior's first first- class outing of the tour so he did pretty well."

Murray scored 45 and 11 and is earmarked to bat at No 6 in the Kingsmead Test starting on Boxing Day in Durban. But that may be the only problem solved by the tourists in Pietermaritzburg.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, with the failure of their strike bowlers to again wrap up an innings being just one of them.

The West Indian pace bowler, Nixon McLean, did, however, manage to crack through the A side's middle-order to finish with 3 for 49 from 18 overs and steal a march on his two Test rivals, Franklyn Rose and Mervyn Dillon. Paul Adams, who was nearly felled by a shy at the stumps from Rose, responded by cracking the pace bowler for two successive fours in a entertaining cameo.

With McLean dismissing Nic Pothas (26), Shafiek Abrahams (1) and Makhaya Ntini (0), Rose was falling behind in the race for a place in this weekend's third Test line-up and it came as little consolation when he had Adams caught at mid-off. He finished with 1 for 42 from 19.3 overs, while the sparsely-used Dillon had to settle for 1 for 6 from nine overs.

TOUR MATCH (Pietermaritzburg, final day of four)West Indies 375 (S Chanderpaul 182) and 95 for 3; South Africa A 293. Match drawn.