Cricket: Thomas puts England in command

Zimbabwe A 63-5
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The Independent Online
DARREN THOMAS claimed three wickets to put England A in a commanding position against Zimbabwe in the first A Test in Harare yesterday .

The home side closed on 63 for 5 after the Glamorgan medium-pacer and Melvyn Betts of Durham took the wickets during a day blighted by overnight rain and bad light. Only one hour and 45 minutes play were possible. Michael Vaughan, the England captain, put Zimbabwe in on a soft, green wicket and Betts, Thomas and Andy Flintoff immediately found plenty of seam movement.

England struck in the seventh over when Betts had Trevor Madondo caught behind. Six overs later Craig Wishart fell to Thomas after his back foot dislodged a bail as he set off for a run. Only Guy Whittall, Zimbabwe's senior batsman, offered any resistance, before he was out for 24, caught by Graeme Swann, as he tried to guide Betts through gully.

Swann also caught Don Campbell off Thomas, who also removed Dirk Viljoen. Thomas finished with 3 for 24 and Betts 2 for 30.

England A have managed only four days play from a possible nine on their tour because of a severe Zimbabwean rainy season.

First day; England A won toss

Zimbabwe A - First Innings

T N Madondo c Read b Betts 8

C B Wishart hit wicket b Thomas 5

G J Whittall c Swann b Betts 24

D P Viljoen c Read b Thomas 6

S V Carlisle not out 9

D J R Campbell c Swann b Thomas 3

A M Blignaut not out 0

Extras (lb2 nb6) 8

Total (for 5, 23 overs) 63

Fall: 1-9 2-32 3-45 4-54 5-58.

To Bat: B C Strang, A R Whittall, A Huckle, E Matambandzo.

Bowling: Betts 9-1-30-2; Flintoff 7-5-7 0; Thomas 7-1- 24-3.

Umpires: I D Robinson and K C Barbour.

n New Delhi police want to draft in 20 snake charmers as a security safeguard for the second Test against Pakistan this week. A deputy commissioner said a formal request had been sent to the environment ministry to supply the charmers before the start of the Test, which begins tomorrow. The decision follows threats made by Hindu militants to release venomous snakes around the ground to disrupt the match.