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Injuries plague WI ahead of 2nd Test

Plagued by injuries, West Indies faces a confident South Africa already one-up in their four-match series when the two sides meet for the second Test on Friday.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2003 10:52 IST

Plagued by injuries, West Indies faces a confident South Africa already one-up in their four-match series when the two sides meet for the second Test at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Friday.

West Indies suffered a major blow when opening batsman Chris Gayle pulled out with a hamstring injury on the first day of the first Test in Johannesburg. South Africa won the match by 189 runs.

Corey Collymore is also fighting a damaged hamstring. And when West Indies captain Brian Lara was hit on the left forearm by a net bowler while batting Wednesday, the tourists' chances of leveling the series looked bleak.

However, X-rays showed just bruising and Lara was cleared to play.

"Brian's fine," team manager Ricky Skerrit told the South African Press Association after Lara left hospital Wednesday. "The X-rays revealed that there were no broken bones." But with Gayle and Collymore out, West Indies will be facing an opponent improving with every match with something of a makeshift team.

Gayle's injury could see the inclusion of Carlton Baugh, the understudy wicketkeeper to Ridley Jacobs, who can play as a specialist batsman.

Fast bowler Adam Sanford, who impressed while taking five for 53 in the rain-affected draw against Border in East London last weekend, and uncapped left-arm wrist spinner Dave Mohammed are front-runners to replace Collymore.

While the bowling is of concern to West Indies, the batting needs to find consistency to back up Lara, who took a world-record 28 runs off a single over in the first Test on his way to a score of 202. Lara should take heart from the rediscovered form of vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan in the warmup match.

After an indifferent tour in Zimbabwe and a disappointing opening Test, Sarwan ended the match on 71 not out, driving and cutting with power and timing, and hitting 11 boundaries as his half century came up in 55 balls.

"What was also good was that the skipper is still making runs, as is Shivnarine Chanderpaul," said West Indies coach Gus Logie. "And with the ball, Adam Sanford was great."

For the South Africans, Jacques Kallis showed signs of discomfort after he suffered a faint hamstring twinge while playing in a domestic limited overs match on Saturday.

Gary Kirsten returns to the squad following the birth of his son. "It's great to have a man of Gary's experience and talent back. He brings so much to the team," said South African convener of selectors Omar Henry.

"It also creates more competition among the younger players for a place in the middle order, and that is not a bad thing at all."

Paul Adams replaces Robin Peterson after recovering from a hand injury, while fast bowler Garnett Kruger has been left out. The South Africans face the dilemma of whether to use Adams or all-rounder Andrew Hall. Adams would provide a penetrative spin option, while Hall would beef up an already impressive pace attack.

With heavy rains in the Durban area, the pitch is likely to favor fast bowling. But the last time South Africa went into a Test without a spinner against Pakistan in 1998, leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed bowled the visitors to victory in the final innings as he took six wickets.

Teams:

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Paul Adams, Mark Boucher, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Gary Kirsten, Neil McKenzie, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Rudolph, Martin van Jaarsveld

West Indies: Brian Lara (captain), Carlton Baugh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Mervyn Dillon, Vasbert Drakes, Fidel Edwards, Daren Ganga, Wavell Hinds, Ridley Jacobs, Dave Mohammed, Adam Sanford, Ramnaresh Sarwan.

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 17:34 IST