Toss: West Indies.

The Second Test was a provocative teaser: both teams felt they could have snatched it but for rain. Nearly half the scheduled playing time on the final three days was lost. At stumps on the fourth day, Australia were 273 for seven a tantalizing 229 ahead, but heavy overnight rain kept them off until after lunch. They batted on to 300 and left West Indies a notional 257 from 36 overs. But Australian self-esteem was boosted; they had recovered from a poor first innings to be fractionally ahead on points at the bell.

West Indies dropped Campbell, shifted Richardson to open and re-introduced Arthurton to the middle order. They put Australia in on a firm, flat pitch, and Richardson's palms must have been sweating as the tourists breezed to 82 without loss. But in the over before lunch, Taylor skied an indiscreet pull shot off Ambrose to Walsh at fine leg. After the break, the middle order quivered and crumbled under an assault on their ribs from Walsh. Yet again, he was West Indies' get-out-of-jail card, grabbing six wickets as Australia folded for 216.

The epic innings that Lara had been threatening looked set to materialize next day. On his return to the Recreation Ground, a year after his 375, he waltzed to 88 in 101 balls. Australian heads sagged under his whimsical mastery as he square-drove, swept and pulled; something freakish was needed to dislodge him. Boon provided it, leaping like a Tasmanian salmon to catch a dragged drive off Steve Waugh in his outstretched left hand. "It started out as a token attempt," Boon explained. "At my age it feels great to take catches like that." With Lara gone, the middle order failed to deliver under relentless pressure. They eclipsed Australia's total with five wickets down, but an eventual lead of 44 was well below expectations - if anything, it was a mental spur for the tourists.

Taylor must have felt like a piece of meat being tenderized as he was thumped on the body several times during nine fearsome overs from Ambrose and Walsh on the second evening. Next day, between showers, Mark Waugh was struck on the back by a Walsh beamer - one ball after hooking Walsh for six, his first scoring stroke. He went on to a patient half-century, as did his twin Steve and Boon, who had reached 7,000 Test runs to inch past Bradman in the first innings. But further rain made their fightback irrelevant.

Ambrose took only one wicket in the match and Richardson suggested he might have to be rested for the next Test. It was the cattle prod he needed.

Man of the Match: C. A. Walsh.

Close of play: First day, West Indies 14-0 (S. C. Williams 8*, R. B. Richardson 0*); Second day, Australia 16-0 (M. A. Taylor 4*, M. J. Slater 9*); Third day, Australia 134-2 (D. C. Boon 60*, M. E. Waugh 42*); Fourth day, Australia 273-7 (S. R. Waugh 52*).