Australia v West Indies, DLF Cup, Final September 24, 2006

Again, it was the best versus the brittle



Talent in surfeit: What if McGrath went wicketless? Nathan Bracken and co were more than enough © Getty Images

It was the perfect first delivery, searingly quick and arcing in like a boomerang. It crunched into Chris Gayle's toe plumb in front of the stumps, and that was pretty much that. Only, it shouldn't have been. Lee's foot had landed several inches ahead of the line, and magnificent ball though it was, it shouldn't have counted. But as he had on Friday night, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the victim, Asad Rauf missed the call, lending further ammunition for those who'd like to more technology employed.

With Mark Benson also giving Brian Lara out when bat brushed pad with the ball in the neighbourhood, it's safe to say that the umpires didn't have the greatest night. Against an Australian attack that was a real handful on a helpful pitch, it would have taken a real Lara epic for West Indies to have any chance of success. But that decision, which plunged the innings to the depths of 32 for 4, killed the contest, and reduced the rest of the innings to farce that made you wish that they'd allow euthanasia for games such as this.

A full-strength Australian team, Adam Gilchrist apart, would obliterate most sides on a surface such as this, and the fact that they have Mitchell Johnson in reserve is a frightening thought. Shane Watson had matured into a back-up seamer of genuine menace, producing the ball of the night to castle Wavell Hinds, and Nathan Bracken seems to do the job whenever he's asked to. It hardly mattered that Glenn McGrath went wicketless, with Lee once again so irresistible.



Damien Martyn was unhurried and classy, unfurling some patented cuts and drives © Getty Images

West Indies were in with a big shout as Australia laboured to 99 for 3 from the first 30 overs, not helped by Simon Katich's laborious 25. But Damien Martyn produced a measured half-century, and Andrew Symonds a stop-start one as 141 came from the last 20. Martyn was unhurried and classy, unfurling some patented cuts and drives, and once Symonds opened up - he ambled to 18 off 41 balls, and then raced to 52 from 59 - Lara had to change tack.

He did so beautifully, with Ramnaresh Sarwan's part-time legspin fetching two wickets in four overs, but late cameos from Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey transformed a competitive total into an imposing one.

If Lara did err, it was in sending the hapless Runako Morton in at the fall of Gayle's wicket. Aside from shattering the world record for the slowest blob - Phil Simmons previously had the honour, having struggled 23 balls against New Zealand - he could barely play a shot in anger, and by the time Lara finally made his entrance, the asking rate was climbing towards six an over.

On a pitch where the ball stopped, and the bounce was variable, even Lara's considerable genius would have found fluency hard to come by. We weren't given the opportunity to find out. All that we did learn was what we already knew, that it'll take a special team, playing at full throttle, to push this Australian side.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo