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West Indies Scrape Home In Thriller One-Day Cricket Victory

by Haydn Gill/NATIONSPORT

Thursday April 02 1998


THE weak-hearted would not have survived. Even those in perfect health had plenty of anxious moments.

On another day of high drama, West Indies and England combined for one of Kensington Oval's most enthralling and sensational limited-overs internationals.

It was a photo-finish, the match won by the West Indies by the closest of margins one wicket with a solitary ball to spare.

After several twists and turns, it came down to West Indies No. 11 Courtney Walsh. He walked onto the ground to a cacophony of sounds with the West Indies needing two runs from five balls.

With David Rudder's Rally Round The West Indies blaring from the Greenidge and Haynes Stand, the more sombre We Shall Overcome from the Kensington Stand and plenty of noises generated from the knocking of advertising signboards, Walsh then coolly played his first ball into the off-side to excited cheers.

Walsh, a 13-year veteran of international cricket, held his nerve to steer a single off the third ball. Although there was wishful thinking on the part of Ridley Jacobs in trying to steal the winning run of the next ball, West Indies levelled the five-match Cable & Wireless series when the pair scampered a single to a fumble at mid-off.

Immediately after the memorable triumph, hundreds of overzealous spectators, clearly affected by the excitement of the moment or by beverages of one kind of another, stormed onto the ground seeking prized possessions.

In the words of Rudder, it was High Mas and the 10 000 spectators packed into the ground gave praise to hail a victory that seemed at one point unlikely.

West Indies required 267 off 50 overs after Nick Knight's 90 and effective late hitting by Matthew Fleming and Mark Ealham had allowed England to mount another challenging total.

They badly lost their way from a comfortable position of 211 for three in the 36th over.

Stuart Williams, brought in for the ill Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Carl Hooper were just beginning to play with greater freedom after a lengthy period of calm rebuilding in which they eked out 26 successive singles against off-spinner Robert Croft and Ealham's medium-pace.

Before Williams and Hooper met, the West Indies had been given another frenetic start by Clayton Lambert, Philo Wallace and captain Brian Lara, but England's impressive fielding, which accounted for the openers, stemmed the rapid flow of runs.

When Lara was third out in the 10th over, the Windies had lashed an amazing 79, but too many wickets were down for their liking and consolidation was required from Williams and Hooper.

After they added 132 in 28.4 overs, the dismissal of Hooper triggered the slump in which six wickets went down for 25.

The England innings was separated into four distinct phases.

Under overcast skies for the first 10 overs when Ambrose and Walsh utilised a pitch with generous moisture, they managed barely two runs an over.

Once the early assistance was gone, Knight, the impressive century-maker of Sunday, again batted with assurance in combination with Ben Hollioake and Mark Ramprakash, who replaced Graham Thorpe, sent home with a back injury.

When Knight was fifth out for 90, England were 154 for five in the 36th over, and the West Indies tightened their grip by restricting the scoring to just 37 runs between the 30th and 40th overs.

The fourth and most entertaining part of the innings was the traditional happy hour, when Ealham and Fleming dealt ruthlessly with anything marginally loose in a spree that yielded 96 runs in the last 10 overs.

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West Indies Captain Concerned About Team's 'Patchy' Performance THE WEST INDIES cricket team need to dominate ``a full 50 overs'' to win the current One-Day series against England.

Speaking after a tense one-wicket victory against the visitors at Kensington Oval yesterday, captain Brian Lara said he was ``quite happy to level the series 1-1'' but is concerned about his side's patchy performance so far.

``We should try to assess the situation a bit better. We tend to play silly shots sometimes. You'd rather be ten runs less and have one wicket down, instead of three or four. If half our batting goes in the first 15 overs then it puts a lot of pressure on the other guys.''

Lauding the 100-run partnership between Stuart Williams and Carl Hooper, the Trinidadian star batsman noted ``things went haywire after that''.

``We have dominated in hourly periods but we have not gone on to dominate a full 50 overs.''

As the keenly fought series moves to St. Vincent this weekend, Lara said he is aiming to finish England off there.

His opposing counterpart, Adam Hollioake, is also confident after the two tight matches here and said: ``We've played well. I can't think of anything we could have done better.''

Of yesterday's effort, the Surrey all-rounder conceded if there was one error it was that he kept Dean Headley bowling an over or two too long. The latter was smashed for 50-odd of his first five overs.


Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 02 Apr1998 - 22:25