September 2, 2000

Lara and Adams lead West Indies fightback

Cornhill Insurance

Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams were fighting back for the West Indies today in a bid to rescue the last Cornhill Test match after England's bowlers caused early devastation at the Oval.

At lunch, the West Indies skipper and his leading batsman had taken the total to 89 for three, needing another 285 runs to win and their partnership, which is vital to keeping the tourists hopes alive in this Test, worth 31 runs with Lara unbeaten on 17 and Adams not out 15.

But the morning belonged to England who made a superb start to the day by snapping up three early wickets in front of a sell-out crowd - the first full fifth day crowd in 16 years of attendance record keeping.

Lara, who was promoted to three in the order ahead of Wavell Hinds came together with Adams when Andrew Caddick snatched his second wicket of the morning, trapping Hinds leg before for seven. It reduced West Indies to 58 for three and the prospect of surrendering the Wisden Trophy for the first time in 31 years loomed ever closer.

With tension sky high at the start, Darren Gough suffered an attack of nerves in his first over, bowling a no ball to get proceedings underway and seeing two further deliveries hurtling towards the boundary.

Adding 15 runs in three overs to their overnight total of 33, the West Indian batsmen Sherwin Campbell and Adrian Griffiths were fired up and looking for runs with their sights set on the 374 victory target.

But by his third over Gough found his rhythm, tempting Cambell into an attempted cut which sent the ball to Graeme Hick at second slip. With the score on 50, a straightforward chance was missed but with a similar delivery from Gough next ball, Campbell played the same shot and this time Hick seized the chance and England had their first crucial wicket.

Caddick struck in the next over when an unsettled Griffiths edged him to Alec Stewart taking the catch low down the leg side, reducing West Indies to 50 for two just 20 minutes into the day's play.

Authorities at the Oval were forced to close the gates when tickets for the last day of the final match of the summer were sold out just 45 minutes after the start of play. It was the first time a Test Match has gone into the fifth day this summer and all 18,500 tickets were sold this morning. The last time, a final day proved so popular was in 1991 when a crowd of 10,500 turned up to see England play West Indies at the Oval and left having witnessed a five wicket win for the home country.