May 10, 2003

Hayden and Langer put Australia in control

Australia 240 and 171 for 0 (Langer 80*, Hayden 79*) lead West Indies 240 (Lara 68*) by 171 runs

Yet another big partnership between Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden put Australia in the driving seat at the end of an absorbing and ill-tempered second day of the fourth Test in Antigua.


Steve Waugh and Brian Lara exchange views after Lara was given not out when the Australians thought they had him caught behind
Photo © Getty Images

West Indies, largely thanks to a spirited 68 from Brian Lara, had battled their way to match Australia's 240, but then Langer and Hayden undid all their hard work with a flying and match-turning stand of 171. And with the wicket slightly deteriorating, Australia ended the day firmly in control of the match.

On a day of anger, aggression and temper, Lara showed his frustration late in the day after he dropped Hayden at slip when the stand was worth 122, and he could do little to stem the flow of runs as Hayden and Langer's imperious driving and cutting.

Relations between the two sides throughout the day were hostile, triggered first thing when David Shepherd turned down what Australia thought was an edge from Lara through to Adam Gilchrist off Jason Gillespie.

The normally cool Steve Waugh showed what he thought with a curt and frank exchange of views with Lara, and that was followed by a barrage of verbal taunts from Australia's bowlers. But Lara remained aloof and let his bat do the talking as he passed 8000 Test runs.

He hit a first-ball six off Brett Lee over third man, and then while Ramnaresh Sarwan was with him at the crease, he continued to play only the way he can. The expansive back-lift, the shuffle in to line, and the execution of another drive or square cut. It was thrilling to watch. And Sarwan too took his captain's lead and enjoyed some dashing cover-drives - and some exchanges with the Australian fast bowlers.

But, as so often, it was Andy Bichel who did the job for Australia just when it mattered. He only picked up two wickets during the day, but they were those of Lara and Sarwan. Sarwan went first in the morning, Bichel superbly clinging on to a sharp caught and bowled chance.

But the celebrations really got underway when Bichel got Lara midway through the afternoon. In one enthralling over, Lara crashed three fours with identical pull shots, but Bichel had the last laugh when Lara got too carried away and mistimed a cover-drive straight to Langer at mid-off for 68. Bichel was delirious, Lara was fuming.

Once Lara, Sarwan and the hapless Ridley Jacobs - who needlessly ran himself out - had gone, Omari Banks continued his impressive allround display with a crucial 16 not out, and with the help of a cameo 14 from Jermaine Lawson, West Indies, for the only time in the series, were on an even keel with the mighty Aussies. But, thanks to Langer and Hayden - that didn't last long.