Australia take charge at Hobart
Not helped by indiscipline and a close decision going against them, West Indies stuttered and stumbled, and were all out for a meagre 149 after winning the toss and batting on a favourable pitch at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. Australia exerted their superiority, striking regularly through their assortment of bowlers. They then batted out 18 overs to reach 60 for no loss, whittling the deficit down to 89.
Had it not been for an innings of some panache - interrupted by a break when he left the field after a pre-existing heart condition played up - from Chris Gayle, West Indies might have been humiliated. Gayle took time to settle down when Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee bent their backs and extracted some seam movement from a pitch that had a touch of moisture under it. Then, when he returned with three wickets already down, Gayle opened his shoulders and played some typically lusty shots. Shane Warne suffered the most, being effortlessly swung over the infield whenever he dropped the ball fractionally short.
But Gayle's free striking was never going to be enough to make up for the failure of the other batsmen. Devon Smith only managed to drag a full, fast one back onto his stumps, Ramnaresh Sarwan amateurishly chased a well-pitched outswinger to edge to the keeper and Brian Lara was nailed by an express-pace delivery from Lee. At 60 for 3, West Indies had laid the foundation for a long struggle.
Australia came into this match with only two frontline fast bowlers - McGrath and Lee - and this made the early wickets they prised out all the more valuable. With barely anything on the board and three batsman back in the hutch, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill had time and space to settle into a rhythm against the middle-order. Andrew Symonds almost came to the party, but he had Gayle caught behind off a no-ball.
That was the slice of luck Gayle needed to turn things around. He began to take on Warne, and in the company of Chanderpaul posted the first sizeable partnership - 59 for the 4th wicket - of the innings, before two wickets fell in five balls and settled the issue in Australia's favour. Chanderpaul fell on 39, inside-edging MacGill to the fielder at bat-pad. Soon after Gayle was given out lbw as he fell over and was rapped on his pad by a ball that was slipping down leg and West Indies were in deep trouble at 119 for 5.
With the tail in sight there was no stopping the Australians. Dwayne Bravo, into the side in place of Jermaine Lawson, popped Brad Hodge his second catch fielding close, and Denesh Ramdin lunged down the pitch, was beaten in the air and collapsed in a heap, somehow managing to edge the ball to slip in the process. Marlon Samuels obliged McGrath with a healthy edge and 119 for 5 had quickly become 130 for 8. Fidel Edwards hung about 16 balls for a duck and the inevitable end came about 8 runs later, with West Indies shot out for 149.
Once again MacGill had outdone Warne in terms of results, picking up 3 for 18 to Warne's 0 for 48. McGrath was at his metronomic bowling-machine best, conceding just 31 from 23 overs for 4 wickets.
And it took Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey to show that there were no gremlins in this pitch. West Indies' fast bowlers Edwards and Powell only caused slight hesitation, when a ball reared unexpectedly or moved late, but could not break through. Hayden in particular was authoritative, pulling well in front of and behind square. The day ended with Australia on 60 for no loss, well and truly in control of this match.
Devon Smith b Lee 4 (15 for 1)
Hurried by a full one that swung late
Ramnaresh Sarwan c Gilchrist b McGrath 2 (26 for 2)
Chased an outswinger
Brian Lara lbw b Lee 13 (60 for 3)
Nailed by a full, fast yorker
Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Hodge b MacGill 39 (119 for 4)
Popped a catch to bat-pad
Chris Gayle lbw b McGrath 56 (119 for 5)
Unlucky to be given out lbw to a ball slipping down leg
Dwayne Bravo c Hodge b MacGill 3 (124 for 6)
Inside-edged to short-leg
Denesh Ramdin c Warne b MacGill 2 (126 for 7)
Jumped down the pitch and fell over while edging to slip
Marlon Samuels c Gilchrist b McGrath 5 (130 for 8)
Fished at one outside off
Fidel Edwards c Symonds b McGrath 0 (141 for 9)
Scooped to cover
Darren Powell c Gilchrist b 15 (149 for 10)
May have gloved a short one
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo