Business as usual for Ambrose and Walsh

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The Independent Online

As they have so repeatedly done throughout their lengthy careers, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh seized the early initiative for the West Indies on the opening day of the first Test against Pakistan here yesterday.

Captain Jimmy Adams gambled by choosing to bowl first and, in spite of a blameless pitch of no pace, his two aging stalwarts responded by despatching Pakistan's brittle and inexperienced middle order.

At lunch, Pakistan were 68 for 5 and relying on Inzamam-ul-Haq, their only batsman of proven class, for a recovery. Timing his strokes with confident certainty he was unbeaten on 38 at the first interval but survived a flying, fingertip chance to Sherwin Campbell at second slip off Reon King in the penultimate over.

Walsh, back after a month-long rest since the series against Zimbabwe, started Pakistan's problems in the sixth over, increasing his recently-acquired Test record 435 wickets by passing Wajahatullah Wasti's defensive stroke to hit the off stump.

Ambrose responded three balls later. He forced Mohammad Wasim on to the backfoot from where he diverted an inswinger into his stumps.

Four overs later, Ambrose, persistently posing problems with his probing length, struck twice with successive balls. Younis Khan, aiming towards mid-on, missed a drive and was lbw and Yousuf Youhana could only get a thick inside-edge on to a sharp off-cutter, wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs tumbling to his left to seize the catch.

Captain Moin Khan, no stranger to lost causes, filled the breach at 39 for 4 and he and Inzamam saw off Walsh and Ambrose. King, the 23-year-old Guyanese in his first home Test, replaced Ambrose and an expectant, if disappointingly small crowd had the satisfaction of a wicket with his first ball, Moin's firm cut finding Adams at gully.

Inzamam and Abdur Razzaq, the talented 20-year-old all-rounder in his fifth Test, put a halt to the West Indian advance, batting through the 40 minutes to lunch as King and Nixon McLean failed to replicate the earlier menace of the two senior fast bowlers.

Inzamam drove and cut anything loose, stroking the only five boundaries for the session.

Pakistan's final selection did not include Shoaib Akhtar, the much-touted "Rawalpindi Express". Because of a groin strain, his cricket in the past six weeks has been limited to a single match in the finals of the one-day international series on Easter Sunday. He was not considered match fit and, probably, unsuited to a slow, featureless pitch and the experience of Waqar Younis was preferred.

SCOREBOARD

First day; West Indies won toss Pakistan - First Innings Mohammad Wasim b Ambrose 4 Wajahatullah Wasti b Walsh 8 Younis Khan lbw b Ambrose 2 Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 38 Yousuf Youhana c Jacobs b Ambrose 0 *ÿMoin Khan c Adams b King 6 Abdur Razzaq not out 9 Extras (lb1) 1

Total (for 5, 28 overs) 68

Fall: 1-12 2-12 3-21 4-21 5-39.

To bat: Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed.

Bowling: Ambrose 8-2-17-3; Walsh 6-1-15-1; McLean 8-1-27-0; King 6-4-8-1.

WEST INDIES: A F G Griffith, S L Campbell, C H Gayle, *J C Adams, S Chanderpaul, W W Hinds, ÿR D Jacobs, C E L Ambrose, N A M McLean, R D King, C A Walsh.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and R E Koertzen (SA).

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