Fighting century from Lara fails to prevent Aussie victory

PORT OF SPAIN (Trinidad): Steve Waugh's Australians crushed the West Indies by 118 runs in the second cricket Test to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy at Queen's Park Oval here on Wednesday. 

The West Indies, on the back of a magnificent fighting 122 by skipper Brian Lara, were in with an outside hope of an improbable victory at 210 for three at lunch on the final day in pursuit of a record 407 runs. 

But the home side collapsed in the afternoon session, losing seven wickets for 78 off 23 overs to be all out for 288 shortly before tea for another overpowering victory for the world's best team to go with their nine-wicket triumph in the first Test in Georgetown. 

The Australians, who have held the trophy since 1995, won the Port of Spain Test on the strength of their fast-tempo batting, racking up a total of 814 runs for the loss of just seven wickets. 

Andy Bichel was the last day hero for Australia, triggering the mid-session collapse with the wickets of Ramnaresh Sarwan (34), Marlon Samuels (1) and debutant David Bernard (4) to finish with 3-21 off 13 overs. 

Bichel's wickets in a three-over spurt, had the Windies tumbling from 210 for three to 228 for six. 

Once Lara went three overs later for his 20th Test century and first at his Port of Spain ground it was only a matter of time before the relentless Australians closed in on victory after dominating the match on a crumbling flat pitch. 

Vice-captain Ricky Ponting was named Man-of-the-Match for his highest Test score of 206 in Australia's declared first innings of 576 for four. 

Lara, yet again, dominated the Australian bowling, particularly in the morning session when he blasted 53 runs to claim one of his finest Test centuries before his adoring Trinidad fans. 

Once he was out, attempting to cut a wide Stuart MacGill delivery to Matthew Hayden at slip, sections of the large crowd began drifting out of the ground realising it was all over even with three wickets left. 

“It was a really good performance here, it was difficult to take 20 wickets on a very flat pitch,” Waugh said. 

“I made the declaration yesterday because I wanted to have a lot of overs at the West Indies batsmen, I knew it was going to be tough to take the wickets and sometimes you need to set your side a bit of a challenge. 

“The 407 runs was gettable from the West Indies' point of view, but for us we needed to get fired up, that was the challenge that was required. 

“Those three wickets by Andy Bichel after lunch were crucial and it really turned it around for us and at that point in the game it was probably 50-50, the West Indies would have thought they were a chance of winning the game, so it was a couple of handy wickets there.” 

Lara said Australia's fast scoring, both in Guyana and here, had been a decisive factor in their victories. – AFP 

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