January 9, 2001

West Indians return to winning list

West Indies' cricketers have made a return to the winners' list with a four wicket win over Australia 'A' at the Adelaide Oval tonight.

Victory was achieved barely before the newly constructed permanent Adelaide Oval lights could take effect, as the visitors wrapped up the match by 8:20pm with more than eight overs to spare.

Marlon Samuels (45) continued to show that he is the find of the tour, after coming out as a replacement for the original squad. He and Wavell Hinds (29) set up the successful pursuit of the target, adding seventy-one runs for the third wicket from 115 balls. This was after the West Indians had been 2/28 from eleven overs at the dinner break, having lost Sherwin Campbell (8) as he lashed to point and Brian Lara (9), who snicked Damien Fleming low to first slip.

Hinds and the West Indians had a substantial spot of luck when he was on ten. He edged Paul Wilson to Brad Hodge's left hand at second slip but the Victorian dropped the difficult chance. Had the catch stuck, the Windies would have been 3/30 and in a fragile state. It was a piece of much-needed good fortune and, as the partnership grew, so the spirits of the Caribbean outfit visibly lifted.

Even a middle order collapse of 3/5 in fourteen balls didn't dampen the victory chase. Wicketkeeper-batsman Ridley Jacobs (15*) and Laurie Williams (11*) nonchalantly added twenty-eight in seven overs to steer their team home and provide a much-needed morale boost for the so-far hapless tourists.

For Australia 'A', Fleming (3/18 off ten overs) showed that being given the new ball ahead of Andy Bichel was justified. After picking Lara up early, he came back for a second spell of 2/7 from four overs as he nipped out Sylvester Joseph (13) and Ricardo Powell (0) in consecutive overs.

Local man, Wilson (1/29 from eight), bowled a little short but nonetheless showed he would be a suitable replacement if required at the next level.

Earlier, the match began in highly oppressive conditions, and when Greg Blewett (15) pulled Cameron Cuffy to the Members' Stand boundary in the seventh over it appeared that the 'A' team were heading for a big score on a flat looking wicket. Next ball, the match took a twist the other way, with an inside edged drive shaving leg stump on its way to the long leg boundary. This was immediately followed by the dismissal of the South Australian right hander, caught at slip by Campbell off a short ball as he attempted to cut. Blewett was followed into the dressing room minutes later as Matthew Hayden (7) aimed a drive at Marlon Black which also found its way to slip.

Skipper Simon Katich (4) strolled to crease and, three overs later, hit a pull shot firmly to square leg, where Powell jumped to hold the chance. Suddenly, Australia 'A' had subsided from 0/26 to 3/35.

Michael Slater (19), oddly batting at number four, rapidly announced his intentions, producing a delightful pull stroke into the crowd. But he fell cheaply too, a little impatiently to a catch at cover off the persistent Williams (2/28). The West Indians were well into the middle order by this stage, having the home side 4/64.

For a time, Hodge (18) and Shane Lee (30) looked the part, adding a further thirty-one. But that was before Hodge misjudged the ability of Joseph and was run out after a stay of thirty-one balls.

Before we knew it, Wade Seccombe (2) came and went and then the last of the recognised batsmen disappeared: Lee (30) stumped off Mahendra Nagamootoo attempting a wild old hoick at the leg spinner.

The fact that the 'A' side reached a total of 145 at all was due to a sensible approach by Bichel (30) and Wilson (1*) who added twenty-five in a touch more than six overs for the last wicket. Bichel manipulated the strike well enough to only allow the big man to face just nine balls in the partnership, before perishing to a top edged cut that landed in the reliable hands of Powell.

All in all, the West Indians can take a significant amount out of this day. Their bowling and fielding was as good as it has been on this tour, though they were aided by some interesting stroke selection from the Australia 'A' line up. But with the bat they will need some more reliability if they are to press either Australia or Zimbabwe in the tri-series which opens on Thursday when they take on the crack home team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.