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MacGill secures nine-wicket victory in Barbados

Australia 605 for 9 dec (Waugh 115, Ponting 113, Lehmann 96) and 8 for 1 beat West Indies 328 and 284 (MacGill 5-75) by nine wickets

The end, when it came, was clinical, as Stuart MacGill clattered through the West Indian tail to secure Australia's third victory of the series, and keep alive their hopes of a first series whitewash in the Caribbean. On a hopelessly unresponsive pitch, Australia were briefly delayed by a resourceful stand of 61 between Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Omari Banks, but four wickets in six overs after tea did the trick.

West Indies did at least avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat, thanks to a 19-run stand for the last wicket between Carlton Baugh and Jermaine Lawson, and there was further joy for Lawson when his first ball pinned Justin Langer lbw to complete a highly unlikely Test-match hat-trick. But it was scant consolation. Needing to bat for the best part of three sessions to save the match, West Indies lost Ramnaresh Sarwan and Brian Lara in dubious circumstances in the four overs of the day, and that, bar the clouting, was that.
MacGill was adjudged Man of the Match for his excellent figures of 5 for 75, and it was he who struck the crucial blow with the very first ball of the day. After Australia had successfully appealed to have their tattered old ball changed, Sarwan propped half-forward and was struck flush on the boot outside the line of off stump. It wasn't a very clever decision from umpire Venkat - judging by MacGill's prodigious turn of the previous evening, the ball would probably have finished nearer first slip than the stumps.

One early wicket was bad enough, but two was too many. All eyes, as ever, had turned to the ailing Lara, whose mystery illness has yet to be diagnosed. But after adding just one run to his overnight 41, Lara attempted to whip Andy Bichel off his legs, and was sent on his way - again lbw - by umpire Shepherd. There was less doubt about this decision, but it was still pretty marginal - the ball seemed to pitch fractionally outside leg.

Australia soon took the new ball, and thoughts turned to a swift denouement. But by lunch, Chanderpaul and Banks had added 55 for the sixth wicket with only a modicum of fuss, and thoughts had once again turned to an unlikely escape. Chanderpaul reverted to his typical sheet-anchor role, after being dismissed for a careless first-ball duck in the first innings, but it was the application of Banks that really caught the eye.

Banks's first two days in Test cricket would have been enough to break a lesser man - his 40 overs of offspin were dispatched for 204 runs, the most ever conceded by a debutant. But here he stood tall and batted as if to the manor born. He went to lunch unbeaten on 31, including four opportunistic fours, and West Indies were within 27 runs of making Australia bat again.

Not for the first time in this match, however, it was a different story after the break. Banks (32) offered a limp bat to a MacGill legbreak and poked a catch to Matthew Hayden at slip (256 for 6), and in the very next over, Chanderpaul was cramped for room by Jason Gillespie and skewed an attempted cut to Adam Gilchrist for 21 (256 for 7). Vasbert Drakes was then bowled through his legs for a duck as he padded up to MacGill (261 for 8) before Tino Best wellied a MacGill long-hop straight to Andy Bichel at mid-on (265 for 9).
At least Baugh and Lawson refused to go down without a fight. Baugh's flat-batted six off MacGill ensured that Australia would at least have a nominal target in their second innings, although he ruined the effect two balls later by running himself out. And Lawson, who had bowled Lee and MacGill with consecutive deliveries at the end of Australia's first innings, then found the deadest patch of wicket to thud his first delivery into Langer's shins.

For Australia, victory on such a featherbed was a remarkable achievement - especially as they did so without much help from Glenn McGrath, who went wicketless for the first time in 27 Tests. An added - and superficial - bonus, was that the victory restored Australia to the top of the ICC World rankings, and they had also become the first side to win three consecutive Tests in the Caribbean. But Steve Waugh won't care much for that. His only target is next week's fourth Test in Antigua - and a series whitewash.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden CricInfo Ltd.