May 18, 2003

McGrath guides clinical Australia to 2-0 series lead

Australia 166 for 2 (Ponting 57*, Hayden 51) beat West Indies 163 (McGrath 4-31) by eight wickets

West Indies might have disrupted the world order with their sensational win in Antigua less than a week ago, but Australia showed why they remain top of the pile in both Test and one-day cricket with a clinical performance to win the second ODI at Sabina Park by eight wickets. It extended Australia's winning one-day sequence to 19 matches, and was as one-sided as any of those games have been.



Andy Bichel celebrates the crucial wicket of Brian Lara
© Getty Images

It was all but over long before the halfway stage and it was a contest which both winners and losers will struggle to remember much beyond tomorrow morning. But it was a thoroughly professional performance by Australia with both bat and ball, and the only blemish was a brief period when they allowed the game to drift towards the end of the West Indies innings. Had they not, then the match would have struggled to go much beyond halftime.

Brian Lara won the toss, and chastised by losing yesterday - albeit narrowly - after putting Australia in, he opted to bat. From the eighth ball of the innings, when Brett Lee caught and bowled Devon Smith for 1, almost nothing went right for West Indies. Man of the Match Glenn McGrath finished with four wickets, polishing off the tail as West Indies lost their last four wickets for six runs in the final overs, but it was Australia's tight line and length in the early overs which proved so devastating.

McGrath, Lee, Jason Gillespie and Andy Bichel gave almost nothing away, strangling the West Indies batsmen and forcing errors. Marlon Samuels gloved an attempted hook off McGrath, Lara bottom-edged an attempted cut off Bichel, and then Chris Gayle nicked a loose drive, also off Bichel, to leave West Indies on 50 for 4. When Ramnaresh Sarwan (14) edged an attempted cut off a slower ball from Gillespie and a diving Matthew Hayden at slip took the catch, that was just about that (75 for 5).

The decision to demote Ricardo Powell to No. 6 was mystifying - yesterday he opened with Gayle and smacked a run-a-ball 37 - and again Powell showed that he has what it takes with a gutsy 32 before holing out to Brad Hogg (103 for 6). Rather than polish off proceedings, Australia then took the foot off the gas. Carlton Baugh (29) and Omari Banks (29) capitalised on Ricky Ponting's decision to persevere with the less threatening Hogg and Andrew Symonds, adding 54 for the seventh wicket and also benefiting from some sloppy fielding.

But then Lee and McGrath returned to the attack. Lee prised open the door when Banks top-edged a bouncer and Adam Gilchrist took his fourth catch of the innings (157 for 7), and then McGrath wrapped things up with three yorkers in five balls balls. Two hit the stumps, the other hit Corey Collymore right in front to give David Shepherd one of his easier decisions. Aptly, the Australians trooped off to the sound of Bob Marley singing "Don't worry, `bout a thing".

Defending such a small total, West Indies had to bowl accurately and hope for some lucky breaks. It just didn't happen. Gilchrist and Hayden got Australia off to a solid rather than spectacular start, and even when Gilchrist fell for 27 in the 12th over, the one-way traffic was hardly interrupted. WEst Indies huffed and puffed, but they never looked like springing an upset and their players body language suggested that they knew they hadn't a hope.

Hayden reached his own fifty before giving Banks a deserved wicket, but by then Ponting was at his imperious best and the final overs were a formality. In the end Australia won with almost 15 overs to spare. But the game was far more one-sided than that.

The teams travel to St Lucia for the third match in this best-of-seven series. On this display it would be a brave person who bet against them completing the series whitewash they threw away in Antigua.