Cricket: McGrath is quick to cut down Lara

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The Independent Online
Australia 256 West Indies 431

BRIAN LARA'S dazzling innings, which had emphatically lifted the depression hanging over West Indies cricket and gave them the initiative in the second Test, came to a quick and anticlimactic end on the third morning yesterday.

The West Indies captain, who dominated the second day with batting of sublime quality, added only a single to his overnight 212 before he got a faint edge to wicketkeeper Ian Healy off his fourth ball from Australia's premier fast bowler Glenn McGrath.

In another compelling spell of nine consecutive overs from the George Headley Stand end, McGrath also removed Jimmy Adams, who had remained with Lara through an overall West Indies fifth-wicket partnership record of 332. A left-hander of completely different character and method to Lara, Adams' contribution was 93, spread over four and three-quarter hours, before he steered a straightforward catch to gully's midriff.

The dismissals altered confident West Indian expectations of an overwhelming first- innings lead, but it was already substantial at lunch despite leg- spinners Shane Warne and MacGill getting among the lower order.

At the interval, the West Indies were 431 for 9, a lead of 176, but the first ball after the resumption saw Courtney Walsh fall lbw to Stuart MacGill.

Warne collected his first wicket of the series after 41 overs when Ridley Jacobs, yet another left-hander, rifled a catch to mid-on while MacGill dismissed Pedro Collins and Curtly Ambrose with sharp leg-breaks.

The pitch, relaid after last year's abandonment against England, has stood up well under a baking sun but is becoming increasingly cracked. Both McGrath and his pace partner, Jason Gillespie, made a few deliveries leap spitefully from just short of a length during the morning and batting will not be as easy over the last half of the match as it was in the first.

A reduced Monday morning crowd was still drifting in when Lara trudged disconsolately back to the players' pavilion and not everyone was in their seats when Adams followed him 40 minutes later.

There was a muted and sympathetic reception for both, a stark contrast to the wild scenes of the previous afternoon when hundreds of jubilant spectators invaded the field to mob Lara after his 100th and his 200th run.

It was an innings of considerable significance by Lara, rekindling West Indian belief that they can compete with the powerful Australians.

Lara was under enormous pressure when he began to drag the West Indies out of the mire of 37 for 4 at the start of the second day. His tenure now seems assured and his popularity restored, even here in Jamaica where his replacement of their favourite cricketer, Courtney Walsh, as captain has prompted strong feelings.

Third day; Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 256 (S R Waugh 100, M E Waugh 67; C A Walsh 4-55).

WEST INDIES - First Innings

(Overnight: 377 for 4)

*B C Lara c Healy b McGrath 213

D R E Joseph c Blewett b McGrath 14

P T Collins c M E Waugh b MacGill 13

J C Adams c Elliott b McGrath 94

R D Jacobs c Elliott b Warne 25

N O Perry not out 15

C E L Ambrose b MacGill 3

C A Walsh lbw b MacGill 0

Extras (b12, lb8, nb22) 42

Total (132.3 overs) 431

Fall (cont): 5-378 6-398 7-420 8-427 9-431.

Bowling: McGrath 35-11-93-5 (nb4); Gillespie 33-7-79-1 (nb10); Warne 30-8-94-1 (nb5); MacGill 22.3-3-84-3 (nb2); Blewett 10-1-48-0 (nb1); M E Waugh 2-0-13-0.

Umpires: S R Bucknor (WI) and P Willey (Eng).