Australia are blown away by Ambrose

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THIRD TEST: West Indies level the series on the third day after unleashing a 15-ball bowling blitz before lunch

reports from Port of Spain

Australia 128 and 105

West Indies 136 and 98 for 1

(West Indies win by nine wickets)

Their long-standing superiority in Test cricket under distinct threat, the West Indies turned a tense, low-scoring and even match into emphatic victory by nine wickets before tea on the third afternoon of the third Test against Australia in Trinidad yesterday.

Australia resumed at 20 without loss, in the lead by eight and with the prospect of an improving pitch under the hot tropical sun. But they were routed by the traditional West Indian strength: hostile and incisive fast bowling that reduced them to 105 all-out just after lunch.

Their confidence firmly re-established, the West Indies then brushed aside the not altogether straightforward task of 98 to win with a volley of boundaries - 17 in all - in 20 overs and the loss of a solitary wicket.

It was yet another astonishing example of the West Indies resilience that has maintained a sequence of 29 unbeaten Test series since 1980, levelling the contest at 1-1 and setting up an enthralling finale in the final Test in Jamaica starting on Saturday.

Australian hopes of a reasonable second-innings score were undermined in one stunning period just before lunch when Curtly Ambrose and Kenny Benjamin dismissed five batsmen in the space of 15 balls while only two runs were added.

Ambrose, who had devastated the Australian first innings for 128 with 5 for 45, was belatedly introduced into the attack by the captain, Richie Richardson, after an hour and 20 minutes, by which time Australia had accumulated 79 for 3 and the Waugh twins, Mark and Steve, were batting with comparative freedom.

It was the bounce which accounted for the opener Michael Slater after 10 minutes when he gloved a catch to third slip off Courtney Walsh. The tourists' captain, Mark Taylor, and David Boon, in his 100th Test, pushed the total past 50 but were then dismissed in successive overs. The left- handed Taylor took two fours in Kenny Benjamin's first over but then had no answer to a perfectly pitched ball delivered from round the wicket that left him to touch the outside edge. At the opposite end Boon cut Walsh hard and straight to gully.

The Waughs had put on 29 when Kenny Benjamin and Ambrose settled the outcome of the match with their demolition of the middle order. Ambrose finished with 4 for 20 and match figures of 9 for 65, earning him the man of the match award.

Steve Waugh, having taken a painful blow on the forearm in the same over, edged a low catch to second slip off Kenny Benjamin. In the following over Ambrose, charging in all menace and aggression from the same Pavilion End from which he had engineered England's all-out 46 last year, removed Mark and Ian Healy with deliveries that cut back sharply. Mark Waugh, too late on his stroke, was lbw, Healy, also late, diverted the ball back into his stumps from the inside edge.

This exposed young Greg Blewett and the tail-enders and the challenge of rebuilding the innings proved beyond them. Blewett chased a wide one from Kenny Benjamin and was caught behind, and Brendon Julian was bowled playing back to Ambrose.

Paul Reiffel and Shane Warne at least pushed the total past 100 but, when they were both caught in the slips, the West Indies were left with a target which surely would not be beyond even a batting team that has been well below its best in the series.

In fact, they treated it as if it were a Sunday afternoon scratch match. Richie Richardson and Stuart Williams, his place in jeopardy after a string of low scores, virtually settled the result with the highest opening partnership of the series, adding 81. When Williams was caught at slip off Mark Waugh, Brian Lara arrived to formalise the result with a typical flourish of two off-side boundaries off Shane Warne.

n Richie Richardson is to captain the West Indies on their tour of England, which starts next month, the West Indies Cricket Board of Control announced last night.

Benson and Hedges Cup, page 33

(Third day: West Indies won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 128 (S R Waugh 63no; C E L Ambrose 5-45).

WEST INDIES - First Innings 136 (G D McGrath 6-47).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings

(Overnight: 20 for 0)

M J Slater c Richardson b Walsh 15

*M A Taylor c Murray b K Benjamin 30

D C Boon c sub (Chanderpaul) b Walsh 9

M E Waugh lbw b Ambrose 7

S R Waugh c Hooper b K Benjamin 21

G Blewett c Murray b K Benjamin 2

I A Healy b Ambrose 0

B P Julian b Ambrose 0

P R Reiffel c Hooper b Ambrose 6

S K Warne c Hooper b Walsh 11

G D McGrath not out 0

Extras (lb3 nb1) 4

Total 105

Fall: 1-26 2-52 3-56 4-85 5-85 6-85 7-87 8-87 9-105.

Bowling: Ambrose 10.1-1-20-4; Walsh 13-4-35-3; W Benjamin 5-0-15-0; K Benjamin 8-1-32-3.

WEST INDIES - Second Innings

S C Williams c Warne b M Waugh 42

R B Richardson not out 38

B C Lara not out 14

Extras (b4) 4

Total (for 1) 98

Fall: 1-81.

Bowling: McGrath 6-1-22-0; Reiffel 6 2-21-0; Julian 3-0-16-0; Warne 3.5- 0-26-0; M Waugh 2-0-9-1.

Umpires: G Cumberbatch and D R Shepherd.

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