Australia 272-6 West Indies 273-7: Lara inspires defeat of Australia

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The Independent Online

Captain Brian Lara hit a meticulous 87 to lead West Indies to a three-wicket victory yesterday, overshadowing a maiden unbeaten century by his Australian counterpart, Mike Hussey, in the fourth one-day match of the tri-series tournament.

Chasing Australia's 272 for six in 50 overs, West Indies made 273 for seven in 47.2 overs after Lara and opener Chris Gayle laid the foundation with a 151-run partnership for the third wicket. Lara's 87 in 80 balls comprised 11 boundaries and a six.

Lara and Gayle soundly punished Australian medium fast bowler Stuart Clark, who conceded 87 runs in seven overs, including seven no-balls and three wides, before Hussey decided not to bowl him anymore.

Australia, which next plays India on Wednesday, also gave away an uncharacteristic 33 extras, including 16 wides and 11 no-balls.

"There were too many sundries. It's something we have to address before the India game. We probably let them off the hook with too many sundries and that's what lost the game," said Hussey, who captained Australia for the first time while Ricky Ponting rested for one game.

"I am really disappointed ... we had a chance to enter the final and we didn't get it," said Hussey, who was named man of the match for his unbeaten 109 in 90 balls that included 10 boundaries and three sixes.

West Indies were cruising toward victory until Lara got out in the 41st over to reduce his team to 242 for four, which triggered a minor collapse as three more wickets fell for 13 runs. West Indies were eventually down seven wickets with 18 runs needed in 36 balls.

Carlton Baugh (7 not out) took the tension off with a boundary off Andrew Symonds. He and Dwayne Bravo (37 n.o.) saw the side safely through for the second win by the West Indies in the tournament.

The West Indies had won their previous encounter, a rain-shortened match against India, on Thursday by 29 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method. The two victories have virtually assured the West Indies a place in the final, to be played on Sept. 24.

Lara's men began the chase slowly, plodding their way to 30 for 1 after 10 overs. But by the 25th over, they were 139 for 2, giving themselves a reasonable shot at victory, as Lara and Gayle blasted 57 off the next five overs.

It was a night Clark would love to forget.

Gayle swung the first and second balls of his third over atop mid-on on the way to the fence. The third was steered for two, the fourth, a no-ball, was upper-cut for a six over third man; and the next past mid-off to the boundary.

Lara punished Clark with equal gusto. In the 30th over, Clark conceded 23 runs, most of them to Lara who opened the over with a six followed by two and two consecutive boundaries.

Lara said Clark's figures are no reflection on his bowling, but a testament to Gayle's batting.

"The way Chris bats, he plays the way he sees it. Someone's got to go at some stage, and Stuart Clark happened to be the unlucky one. We didn't target anyone," he said.

The Australian innings was also helped by Brad Haddin's career best 70 while left-handed Hussey played his characteristic, no-fuss game, nudging the ball around through the gaps to take singles and twos.

He and Haddin shared a 166-run partnership for the sixth wicket, coming together when world champion Australia had its back to the wall at 104 for five after the departure of opener Matthew Hayden in the 26th over for 49.