May 7, 2000

Battle on for runs

Bourda, Guyana - A definite pattern has developed after two days of the first Cable & Wireless Test between Pakistan and West Indies.

The West Indies, 101 for three when fading light halted the second day seven overs before schedule, are 187 short of Pakistan's first innings 288 and already finding Mushtaq Ah-med's tantalising mixture of leg-breaks and googlies a handful.

Committed to batting last by Jimmy Adams' justifiable gamble on winning the toss, they ideally need to bat through the third day, compile over 300 and limit the time they will have to bat and the runs they will have to make second time round.

It demands significant innings from Adams himself and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the two most seasoned batsmen in their inexperienced and unproven order, who resume their difficult assignment this morning.

Committed to their traditional all-pace attack on a slow, flat pitch, the West Indies effectively used defensive tactics to restrict Pakistan to 67 runs from 37.2 overs yesterday as their remaining five wickets could only convert their first day 221 for five to 288 all out.

Pakistan responded with their powerful combination of speed, swing and spin that brought 934 Test wickets between them into the match. They claimed an early wicket when Sherwin Campbell's careless stab was snapped up by Younis Khan inches from the ground at second slip off Wasim Akram and then, after nine overs, had Mushtaq wheeling away for the rest of the afternoon through 17 cionsecutive overs from the Regent Street end.

Three catchers huddled around in such proximity they could reach out and touch the batsmen, there was the now routine theatrical appealing for lbws and close catches and Mushtaq reacted to almost every ball as if it should have claimed a wicket.

At the opposite end, captain Moin Khan revolved the varied pace of the left-arm Akram, the right-arm Abdur Razzaq and Waqar Younis and the off-spin of Saqlain Mushtaq.

After an encouragingly positive second-wicket partnership of 67 between Adrian Griffith and Wavell Hinds, the first two of eight consecutive left-handers, the going became increasingly tough for West Indies.

Griffith, straighter in his stance than usual, took a particular fancy to Younis, three times driving him through mid-off and straight for fours and slapping him to point for another when he pitched short.

The best of Hinds' five boundaries was a sweet drive through extra-cover. Three were off Mushtaq against whom he was never at ease.

Their stand ended when Razzaq removed Griffith lbw for 34 in a spell that gave the batsmen no respite. Hinds' tortured time against Mushtaq ended ten runs later when he missed an expansive drive and was so swiftly stumped by Moin Khan, it required eight replays of the television footage for third umpire Colin Alfred to press the red light.

Twenty minutes earlier, a leg-break had hit the top of his off-stump but, for the second time in the day, mysteriously did not remove the bail. Waqar had similarly escaped on a deflection from his boot off Walsh at the tailend of the Pakistan innings.

In spite of the generosity of five more missed chances, Pakistan could not capitalise on the record sixth-wicket partnership between Inzamam-ul-Haq and Razzaq that had pulled them from the depths of 39 for five an hour and 20 minutes into the opening day.

West Indies, deliberately defending from the start in spite of a ball only one over old, removed the dangerous Inzamam for 135 after an hour and 20 minutes.

Inzamam's six-and-three-quarter hours of high-quality batsmanship, during which he stroked 20 boundaries in all directions for his tenth hundred in his 62nd Test, was ended by Reon King's first ball of the day, a late inswinger that struck him as he came forward.

Inzamam's stand with Razzaq was worth 206, the highest for the wicket for Pakistan in the 35 Tests between the teams.

Razzaq, 80 overnight, seemed overcome by the prospect of a maiden hundred in his fourth Test and, virtually strokeless, was restricted to seven runs off the 79 balls he received for the day.

When he attempted to break free after lunch, he edged Nixon McLean to first slip, after which the innings subsided meekly with another wicket to Walsh, McLean and Curtly Ambrose.

West Indies would have ended things earlier but for their inept catching.

Walsh allowed Inzamam, dropped on 32 a day earlier, his second escape at 121 when he couldn't hold on to a return. Razzaq was twice put down at 82.

It added up to seven misses - generosity no team can afford, least of all one batting last.