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Wisden CricInfo staff
April 23, 2003
Australia 576 for 4 dec (Ponting 206, Lehmann 160) and 238 for 3 dec (Hayden 100*) beat West Indies 408 (Ganga 117) and 288 (Lara 122) by 118 runs
The day will be remembered for another wonderful Test century from Brian Lara, but it wasn't enough to prevent Australia retaining the Frank Worrell Trophy, with their 13th win in 16 Test matches.
It was a tale of two sessions. The morning belonged to Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan, the afternoon to the Australian bowlers. To make 407 batting last in a Test match against Australia was a near-impossible task, but for a whole session, Lara suggested that he could make it come true. In the end, it proved to be too tall an order.
The morning session was the most absorbing of the series so far. Lara played with a mixture of extreme grit and amazing grace to score his first Test hundred on his home ground. It was his eighth against Australia, and his 20th overall. It took him 164 balls, and he smacked 12 fours and one six, but it was by no means easy.
Lee - who dropped Lara on 6 yesterday evening - bowled with extra venom and hostility. It was an intriguing battle between two heavyweights of world cricket, and Lara won it. Lee hurled down a bruising barrage of bouncers, two of which whistled past Lara's chin, and one which thudded into his arm as he turned away for protection. Lee thought he had his man when he burst his lungs with an lbw appeal which at first looked close, but was correctly given not out by Rudi Koertzen. The whole of the Port-of-Spain crowd sighed with relief.
In the following over, after a nervy period in the nineties, Lara cracked a Stuart MacGill full-toss past mid-on, punched the air in delight, and the look of relief on his face was visible to all after he took off his helmet to applaud his fans.
Lara had started the day cautiously, but freed his arms soon after, shuffling down the pitch and depositing the ball over Brad Hogg's head for six. That shot took him past Sir Garry Sobers's record for the most Test runs in the Caribbean.
And that was the just the start of a spate of breathtaking strokes. In consecutive overs from Jason Gillespie, Lara smashed two spanking cover-drives - the first off the front foot and the second off the back - which left Gillespie shaking his head in frustration. Sarwan got into the act with a dashing drive through extra-cover off Hogg, as the pair brought up their fifty partnership from 80 balls.
Sarwan played the supporting role well, as he dug in while Lara took the brunt of the attack. Sarwan survived two close calls in the morning, but his dismissal just after lunch signalled the West Indies collapse. Andy Bichel was the man who got things going for Australia, persuading Sarwan to miscue an attempted pull straight to Darren Lehmann at mid-on.
The shot was on but Sarwan closed the blade too early and the ball spooned up in the air. It was an uncharacteristic lapse of concentration from Sarwan, who had made a controlled 34 from 87 balls, and ended his partnership of 106 with Lara.
Marlon Samuels and David Bernard fell in quick succession to Bichel's nagging line, and then the hammer blow struck West Indies when Lara was prized out for 122 by MacGill. It was a glorious effort and while he was there, West Indies could believe that victory was within their grasp. But, while the wickets slipped away at the other end, Lara was forced into an indiscretion and was caught at slip by Matthew Hayden.
Moments later, Carlton Baugh was gone as well, heaving the first ball of a new spell from Hogg to Justin Langer at cover. Steve Waugh then opted for the new ball, and Lee and Gillespie scythed through the lower order to round off the 118-run win.
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