|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
At Adelaide, December 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Australia won by five wickets. Toss: West Indies. Test debut: M. N. Samuels.
The scales were as near to balanced as they would ever be when Adams won his first toss of the series. Australia had lost Steve Waugh and Brett Lee to injuries, leaving the captaincy to a nervous Gilchrist in only his 12th Test. Lara had run into form at Hobart, and the pitch was a traditional Adelaide Oval belter. Yet these circumstances were enough only to steady temporarily West Indies' decline, not to reverse it. Eight overs into on the fifth day, Australia reaffirmed their hold on the Frank Worrell Trophy.
Lara had just played an astonishing innings of 231 against Australia A. Now, he raged across the first day and into the second to make 182, with 29 fours and a six. He was of a mood, latterly all too rare, when he seemed to know the speed, shape and movement of every ball long before it came to him, able to put it away on either side of the wicket at will. Even a blow to the helmet from McGrath did not faze him. His tormentor was tamed and it was Gillespie, by picking away steadily at the other end, who took the first five wickets. Adams kept him waiting almost three hours as he contributed 49 to a fourth-wicket stand of 183. Sarwan's replacement, Marlon Samuels, 19 years old and in just his eighth first-class game, played with impressive cool, but when Lara fell to a combination of extra bounce from Miller and Mark Waugh's genius at slip, the West Indians lost five for 37, all to the subtlety of Miller.
Australia's openers went breezily to 156 before Slater again ran out Hayden, whereupon Samuels's fledgling off-spinners quickly conjured up two more wickets to give West Indies an edge for the first time in the series. Crucially, fatally, they then bowled to contain rather than attack, and Australia, through the consistent Waugh and a flighty 92 from Ponting, recovered. But this match was a capricious affair: from six out and five behind, they also collapsed, losing four for 17. Only Martyn, in his first home Test for nearly seven years, kept his head. MacGill was so upset to be given out that he shoulder-charged twelfth man Sarwan on his way to the dressing-room; under a more stringent referee he could have faced suspension.
With only 12 runs separating the sides, the match now took on a madcap pace. Lara threatened mayhem again, reaching 39 at more than a run a ball before turning Miller's arm ball from around the wicket into short leg's hands. It was a more artful piece of cricket than it seemed, and by the simple virtue of bowling at the stumps Miller now took his second five-wicket haul of the match. From the fall of Lara, West Indies lost eight for 54 to be all out for 141.
Australia's target was 130, and old phobias about small targets were soon revived when they found themselves 48 for four. Walsh and Dillon proved more than disconcerting now that the bounce of the pitch was variable. Langer, without any great authority, made his first meaningful contribution of the series and, when he was out at 111 on the last morning, Martyn calmly gathered in the remaining runs. Characterising the depth in Australian cricket, Martyn scored 80 unbeaten runs in this match, all in the bemusing knowledge that none would matter when it came to selection for the next. Gilchrist was at the crease for the winning run, and to savour an improbable personal record: in a little more than a year as a Test player, he had known nothing except victory, and now he was a winning Test captain.
After the match, a retrospective ruling awarded the first penalty runs in a Test under the newly introduced 2000 Code of the Laws of Cricket. On the opening morning, a ball from Gillespie passed both Ganga and Gilchrist and struck a fieldsman's helmet; though originally signalled as five byes, the runs were officially amended to penalties under Law 41.3.
Man of the Match: C. R. Miller.