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by Haydn Gill in ST. VINCENT

April 4 1998

THE third scene of an action-packed thriller moves to the Arnos Vale Playing Field today, with hopes of similarly exciting scenes that highlighted the first two acts.

West Indies and England cricket teams, the two characters for the plot, seek a crucial advantage in the third of the five Cable & Wireless One-Day Internationals after sharing the spoils in two high-scoring matches at Kensington Oval.

The stage - the pitch - looks a beauty, a view shared by one of the major stars of the show.

``The surface in Barbados was top-class and this one seems to be similar,'' West Indies captain Brian Lara said yesterday.

``We've had good One-Day matches here so far. There haven't been any problems in the past and it doesn't seem like there will be any problems this weekend.

``Hopefully, the teams will be up to it and we'll have two exciting encounters again - hopefully in the West Indies' favour.''

There was no shortage of drama in the Barbados leg of the series. The two matches, played in a charged atmosphere, produced tense finishes which resulted in a victory for either side.

It means that there is plenty to play for this weekend, according to England captain Adam Hollioake.

``From here on, it's basically a two-best-in-three series. Whoever wins the first game will be at an advantage. The pressure will then be on the other team,'' he said.

``The two teams are evenly matched. At the end, the team with the best nerves is going to win.''

The picturesque ground, which is sandwiched between the E.T. Joshua Airport and the Caribbean Sea, holds special memories for both Lara and the West Indies.

Lara enjoyed the satisfaction of scoring the first Test hundred on the ground last season and he was also a century-maker in a One-Day International against New Zealand two years ago.

When West Indies and England played here in 1994, the home team thoroughly dominated their opponents and went on to win by a mammoth 165 runs with Lara finishing off the match with some innocuous leg-breaks that earned him his only two wickets in international cricket.

``This is a very good ground for us. We've been able to do quite well here,'' Lara said.

``We need two victories to finish off the series and we couldn't have wanted a better place than St. Vincent.''

By adding two One-Day ``specialists'' to their squad, West Indies have given themselves quite a few options for the composition of their final XI.

The general feeling is that the three all-rounders - Phil Simmons, Keith Arthurton and the uncapped Carl Tuckett - along with hometown fast bowler Nixon McLean, are competing for the last two spots.

Lara gave no hint about the eventual 11, but it is likely that Arthurton, his usefulness underlined by his left-handed batting, quick, flat left-arm spin and fleet-footedness in the outfield, will make a return to the international arena for the first time in two years.

Should McLean be omitted, the West Indies will go into the match with only two genuine fast bowlers, a rare and what appears to be an unlikely move.

England are also contemplating a change to their fast bowling department following two electrifying starts by the West Indies who lashed more than 100 runs within the first 15 overs in both matches.

Most of the assault was targeted on Dean Headley, whose 16 overs cost 131 runs.

There is speculation that Angus Fraser, England's workhorse in the Test series, might replace Headley, but Hollioake was not prepared to say so. But he did promise to restrict the West Indies' early fireworks.

``That's an area we have to look at, but we've got a few ideas to stop the flow of runs,'' he said.

Capacity crowds are expected for both matches.

Each of the five flights from Barbados into Kingston yesterday, was solidly booked and in some cases, overbooked. The first of those flights was delayed by half-hour because of a ticketing problem that resulted in too many passengers assembling at the departure gate.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 05 Apr1998 - 12:25