Victory in sight for Australia

 

Australia were on the verge of victory over West Indies yesterday after 15 wickets tumbled during the fourth day of the third Test.

At the close Australia were 98 for four in their second innings, needing only 32 more runs to reach their victory target of 130 and clinch the series.

Australia, who won the first two matches of the five-game series to set a world record of 12 consecutive Test wins, put themselves in position to make it 13 in-a-row when they destroyed the West Indian second innings for just 141.

But not everything had gone Australia's way. They were restricted to a first innings lead of just 12 when they failed to add to their overnight score of 403-9 then suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of another Brian Lara onslaught.

Lara was again in brilliant touch, smashing four fours and a six as he raced to 39 at better than a run a ball.

With runs hard to come by and the wicket starting to turn at alarming angles, Lara belted leg spinner Stuart MacGill out of the attack by taking 20 runs off one over before off-spinner Colin Miller deceived him, found an inside edge and Langer took the simplest of catches at bat pad.

Even then, with just 130 required for victory, Australia again found themselves under pressure, slumping to 48-4 before Justin Langer (43 not out) and Damien Martyn (18 not out) rescued the innings with an unbroken half-century partnership.

Miller was Australia's unlikely hero, capturing 10 wickets in a Test for the first time in his career.

He added 5-32 to his first innings haul of 5-81 and claimed Lara's wicket for the second time in the match.

Lara's departure triggered another embarrassing West Indies collapse and they lost their last eight wickets for just 54 runs.

Miller, who made his test debut in 1998 at age 34, claimed the 50th wicket of his brief international career when he dismissed Daren Ganga shortly after Lara left.

Ganga had been at the centre of a row before lunch when he was controversially given not out by Srinivas Venkataraghavan after wicketkeeper and captain Adam Gilchrist had claimed a catch.

With relations between the two teams already strained after MacGill was warned by English match referee Alan Smith for barging into substitute Ramnaresh Sarwan on Sunday, tempers began to fray.

Ganga exchanged words with some of the fielders and Lara marched down the pitch to get involved before the umpires stepped in to restore calm.

Ganga was 30 at the time and made only two more after he returned from lunch.