Cricket: West Indian batsmen struggle to find form

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The Independent Online
West Indies 62-3 v India

India scored all the early points when the rain-plagued fourth Test finally got under way here yesterday. With the first three days eliminated by a combination of rain and a sodden outfield, the match was reduced to two meaningless days.

Efforts to have it abandoned and replaced instead by either one or two one-day internationals, or even to have the match restarted from scratch, were futile on the previous afternoon and the teams assembled yesterday knowing a result would be beyond them. But there were still personal records and a psychological balance at stake.

When Courtney Walsh won the toss on a pitch that, fully protected from the weather, was seemingly full of the runs always on offer at the Recreation Ground, his stated intention was for his batsmen to enjoy themselves. Instead they struggled.

Their problems began in the second over when a slack stroke outside off stump by Stuart Williams produced an edged catch to first slip off the tall fast bowler Abey Kuruvilla, and half an hour after lunch they had declined to 90 for 4.

Williams' opening partner, Sherwin Campbell, was the victim of a spectacular piece of fielding by Ajay Jadeja, who hit the stumps at the bowler's end with Campbell, sliding home, inches short of his ground.

This let Brian Lara on to the stage where he had amassed his record 375 against England three years ago, but the left-hander found his timing initially awry and needed 25 balls before getting off the mark. By then he had lost Shivnarine Chanderpaul who prodded forward to Anil Kumble and provided a catch off bat and pad to forward short leg for 24.

Immediately after lunch Carl Hooper stepped down the wicket to the left- arm spinner Sunil Joshi and hoisted him out of the ground for a huge six, but Joshi's revenge did not take long. Hooper had made 26 when, as he is wont to do, he surrendered his wicket to a soft shot, dabbing an ordinary delivery to Mohammad Azharuddin at slip. By then Lara was finding the middle of the bat but it had not been a good session for the West Indies.

During lunch, a posse of policemen arrived at the press box to escort Horace Helps of the Jamaica Observer and Keith Holder of The Nation of Barbados out of the ground. They had been reportedly involved in an altercation on the rained-out first day, Friday, with officials of the Antigua Cricket Association, which is staging the match on behalf of the West Indies Cricket Board.

The ACA had held a meeting with Helps and Holder on Sunday that had failed to resolve the issue and the pair were advised they were still persona non grata. But no less a person than the Prime Minister, Lester Bird, had intervened on the previous day and advised the journalists that their accreditation would not be withdrawn. They were therefore surprised when they were escorted from the box, taken to a nearby station and made to leave. A photographer, Gordon Brooks, was also arrested when he tried to take a photograph of the eviction.

Fourth day; West Indies won toss


WEST INDIES - First Innings

S C Williams c Tendulkar b Kuruvilla 0

S L Campbell run out 10

S Chanderpaul c Laxman b Kumble 24

B C Lara not out 8

C L Hooper not out 13

Total (for 3) 62

Fall: 1-0 2-32 3-40.

To bat: R I C Holder, C O Browne, C E L Ambrose, F D Rose, I R Bishop, *C A Walsh.

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