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Hooper hails West Indian performance

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 13 (AFP) - New West Indian captain Carl Hooper said his team had shown they had the ability to win their five-match series against South Africa during the first Test which ended in a draw at the Bourda ground Tuesday.

"South Africa are a tough, disciplined side but weve done pretty well. If we can build on this over the next few weeks we can win a few Test matches," said Hooper.

West Indies ended a seven-match losing streak in an evenly fought contest which ended tamely when South Africa scored 142 for two after being set 306 to win in 76 overs.

Opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs made an unbeaten 83.

Both captains admitted the target was out of reach on a slow pitch.

"We didnt want to take any chances," said Hooper.

"We just wanted to bat well and we did that," said South African captain Shaun Pollock. "Theres always a bit of pressure batting in the last innings."

Hooper said he was pleased with the performance of his batsmen, especially three relative newcomers to Test cricket, Chris Gayle, 21, Marlon Samuels, 20, and Ramnaresh Sarwan, 20, who all made half-centuries.

The captain admitted he did not know Gayle and Samuels, or Gayles opening partner Wavell Hinds, before the team assembled on the day before the match started.

"It was very satisfying to see the young batsmen in form. They all have a good attitude and it is good for West Indies cricket."

Pollock said it had been a difficult pitch for a South African side which thrives on faster, bouncier surfaces.

"The bowlers fought well for their wickets and our batters did nicely," said Pollock.

"Both sides played well although we will be kicking ourselves a bit for not getting a first innings lead of 120 or 150 after the foundation built by Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis."

Kirsten was named man-of-the-match after scoring 150 in the first innings.

Pollock said South Africa had "learnt a lot" in what was the first Test in the West Indies for all their players with the exception of Allan Donald.

Hooper declared the West Indian innings after 12 overs yesterday, soon after Sarwan was run out for 91, the highest score by a West Indian in Tests against South Africa.

Gibbs was dropped by Hooper at second slip off Mervyn Dillon in the second over of the South African innings when he had two but Kirsten and Gibbs then batted comfortably in putting on 66 for the first wicket.

Gibbs and Kallis then added 68 for the second wicket to ensure the match would end in a draw.

The West Indies selectors announced that the same squad of 13 would travel to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, for the second Test which starts Saturday.

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