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Match reports


Toss: West Indies

Toss: West Indies. Test debut: S. Chanderpaul.
The superiority of West Indies was overwhelming, during a game they were able to win in comfort despite donating first use of the pitch to a grateful England. Atherton's impressive 144 ensured the gift was not entirely spurned. But a total of 322 was plainly insufficient and West Indies, inspired by an irrepressible Lara, dictated the match from that point. They won midway through the final day, immediately prompting talk of a clean sweep of the five Tests.
Both teams made late, contentious selections. West Indies omitted Simmons, after 16 consecutive caps, and included the Guyanese teenager, Chanderpaul, as much for his leg-breaks as his left-handed batting. England decided against a second spinner, choosing only Salisbury, though he seemed to be there more through mistrust of the seamers rather than any belief that it was the correct policy.
Richardson's curious decision to bowl was almost vindicated when Walsh took wickets in each of his first two overs. England's best passage of the match then carried them to 245 for three before their last seven wickets fell for 77. Smith, missed at slip by Lara off Winston Benjamin when 27, imposed himself for the first time; his stand of 171 with Atherton was a third-wicket record for any Test at Bourda. Atherton, playing with imperious command, added a further 72 with Hick. On a slow pitch, inclined to keep low, the West Indian bowlers seemed to have been subdued. This assumption is always dangerous, however: Ambrose roused himself after a lethargic few weeks and struck the critical blows of the match. He removed Hick, Thorpe and finally Atherton, who had batted eight minutes short of seven hours for the highest score on the ground by an Englishman since Sir Leonard Hutton's 169 in 1953-54. Due to Guyana government policy, and rain in 1989-90, England had not played a Test on the ground at all for 20 years.
Half the second day remained when West Indies began batting, and it was soon evident that England would struggle to bowl them out. After Richardson had made a modest success of his role as stand-in opener, Haynes and Lara took 89 off the day's last 20 overs. With the prospect of something special from Lara, not to mention their own Chanderpaul, the Saturday crowd was massed and exuberant, compared with some thin attendances on other days. They were not disappointed. After Salisbury had taken two early wickets, Lara's control was hypnotic, his timing and placement stunning. Undone, at length, by a minor misjudgment when hitting through mid-wicket, he had batted only 257 minutes, hit 112 in boundaries and exerted such a spell over the day that England were grateful to remove him for as little as 167. Adams, his foil in a fourth-wicket stand of 112, now assumed the senior role, advancing in his quiet, understated way to the maiden Test hundred he had missed at Kingston while, to the noisy delight of the stands, trees and other vantage points, Chanderpaul made a debut half-century of wristy elegance.
England's four main bowlers were powerless against the assault: the recruitment of Hick and Ramprakash for 35 overs of part-time spin told its own story. After five sessions in the field, the tourists faced a deficit of 234 and needed further heroics if the contest was to be extended. When Atherton was out to Ambrose's fourth ball - a beauty which brought him his 200th Test wicket - and Ramprakash failed again, the die was cast. Stewart batted fluently, if at times fortunately, but Smith and Hick, who was struck painfully on the elbow and bowled next ball, were swept away before the close of the fourth day. Realistically, only rain could alter the outcome by then. Lewis and Salisbury did their best, with two hours' resistance for the eight wicket. But once the patience and perseverance of the bowling broke their partnership, the last two wickets followed inside two overs, giving Kenny Benjamin seven in the match to Ambrose's eight.
Man of the Match: B. C. Lara
Close of play: First day, England 258-5 (M. A. Atherton 131*, I. D. K. Salisbury 2*); Second day, West Indies 152-1 (D. L. Haynes 53*, B. C. Lara 57*); Third day, West Indies 487-6 (J. C. Adams 102*, W. K. M. Benjamin 37*); Fourth day, England 119-4 (A. J. Stewart 72*, G. P. Thorpe 10*).