Tension still the enemy of West Indies

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The Independent Online

The euphoria of the great escape in Port-of-Spain has given way to stark reality for the West Indies just two days into the Second Test against Zimbabwe.

Twice they have held the initiative against plucky, but limited, opponents. Twice they have lacked the resources and the self-belief to retain it.

Obliged to bat last on a hard, bare pitch that will soon wear, they face a potentially difficult fight over the remaining three days. With their last two specialist batsmen in and only the wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs and the fast bowlers left, they ended yesterday 108 for 4 in reply to Zimbabwe's 308, their first total of over 300 for 12 Tests.

Zimbabwe showed characterisitic fight to achieve their position, especially in the absence of their strike bowler, Heath Streak, who has been kept on the physio's table with back muscle spasms throughout the 58 tortuous overs of the West Indies innings.

The game had started well enough for the West Indies, as their pace bowlers took an early grip. Zimbabwe broke free through a partnership of 166 between Murray Goodwin, with 113, and Andy Flower, 66, but found themselves in trouble again when they were dismissed off successive balls in the closing overs.

The overnight 220 for 5 became 234 for 8 inside the first hour yesterday. Armed with the second new ball in preference to the stalwarts, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, the younger West Indies fast bowlers, Reon King and Franklyn Rose, tightened the screws again, the pacy King completing his first five-wickets return in his fifth Test.

Once more, the West Indies couldn't complete the job as Stuart Carlisle, in successive partnerships with Bryan Strang and Henry Olonga, raised 84 vital runs. When Walsh and Ambrose finally took over from the tiring King and Rose, they could make no impression and the last wicket stand had raised 64, the highest for Zimbabwe in their 41 Tests, before Walsh finally removed Carlisle for 44. It was his second wicket of the innings and carried him to within three of surpassing Kapil Dev's 434 as the most in Test cricket, a prospect that had filled Sabina Park to its 12,000 capacity.

The crowd's noisy exuberance of the morning had subsided by the time the West Indies replied and it remained muted as the inadequate West Indian batsman battled to come to terms with their own limitations and the discipline of the Zimbabwean bowling.

The standard for the struggle was set by the immobile left-handed opener, Adrian Griffith. Out for a first-over pair to Streak in the First Test he spent an hour and a half and 74 balls over four scoring shots for six.

The Zimbabweans could sense the tension in opponents they dismissed for 187 and 147 in the First Test. They pinned them down to fewer than two runs an over and, for long period, stalled them completely. Of the 58 overs, 24 were maidens.

Wickets were the inevitable consequence. Chris Gayle, the tall 20-year-old, edged a catch to wicketkeeper Andy Flower off Olonga at 69. Sherwin Campbell, the only right-hander in the first seven and showing some aggression with nine boundaries, was brilliantly taken at slip for 48, cutting the leg-spinner Brian Murphy.

The score hadn't moved for another 32 balls when Andy Flower was again called into action to gather in Shivnarine Chanderpaul's snick in the fifth of five successive maidens from the left-arm medium-pacer, Bryan Strang.

Jimmy Adams and Wavell Hinds batted through to stumps but they were no more convincing that those who had preceded them.

Scoreboard at the close of play in the second day of the second test between the West Indies and Zimbabwe at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica:

Zimbabwe First innings (Resumed at 220 for 5)

Grant Flower c Jacobs b Walsh 2 Trevor Gripper c Walsh b King 11 Murray Goodwin run out (Hinds-Adams) 113 Neil Johnson c Gayle b King 0 Andy Flower b Rose 66 Brian Murphy b Rose 0 Alistair Campbell lbw b King 1 Stuart Carlisle c Jacobs b Walsh 44 Heath Streak b King 2 Bryan Strang c Jacobs b King 13 Henry Olonga not out 22 Extras: (byes 4, leg byes 12, wides 2, no balls 16) 34 TOTAL (all out): 308

Overs: 115.4 Fall of Wickets: 1-5, 2-40, 3-40, 4-216, 5-216, 6-223, 7-229, 8-234, 9-254, 10-308.

West Indian Bowling Curtly Ambrose 25-8-36-0 (no balls 6), Courtney Walsh 22.4-6-46-2 (no balls 3), Reon King 23-8-51-5, Franklyn Rose 24-8-69-2 (no balls 7, wides 1), Chris Gayle 10-0-46-0 (wides 1), Jimmy Adams 9-2-32-0, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 2-0-12-0.

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West Indies First innings

Adrian Griffith b Johnson 6 Sherwin Campbell c Campbell b Murphy 48 Chris Gayle c Andy Flower b Olonga 13 Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Andy Flower b Strang 12 Jimmy Adams not out 9 Wavell Hinds not out 12 Extras: (leg byes 1, no balls 5) 6 TOTAL (for 4): 106

Overs: 58 To bat: Ridley Jacobs, Curtly Ambrose, Franklyn Rose, Reon King, Courtney Walsh.

Zimbabwean bowling Henry Olonga 15-4-27-1, Bryan Strang 12-6-14-1 (no balls 1), Neil Johnson 12-6-20-1 (no balls 4), Brian Murphy 18-7-44-1, Grant Flower 1-1-0-0.

Toss: Zimbabwe.

Umpires: Eddie Nicholls, Guyana; Athar Zaidi, Pakistan. Third-TV replay umpire: Thomas Wilson, Jamaica. Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.

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