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Umpire's error undermines tourists

Australia 435 v West Indies 182-6

Not for the first time, it involved Brian Lara, the game's premier batsman, and it effectively finished off a fight to stay in contention after Australia's last three wickets aggressively added a further 95 to boost their total to 435. Once Lara left, the West Indies slid to 182 for 6 when play was called off five overs early because of bad light.

Lara had spent an hour and a quarter fighting to find the form that is essential to his team's welfare - but had eluded him since his arrival in Australia a month ago for the Super Series - when Brett Lee deceived him with a slower ball. The left-hander deflected it into his pad off the inside edge, but Ian Howell, a South African standing in his third Test, did not notice the deviation and granted the lbw appeal.

As Lara headed back to the team room, the television replay that Howell would have been at liberty to consult in the Super Series under the experimental regulation, but not now in a proper Test, revealed not only the edge but also that it would have sent the ball past leg stump.

On either count, Howell should not have raised his finger. Instead, it stayed up and the West Indies went down. As ever, the dismissal of their most feared opponent by whatever method - and such blunders have dogged Lara more than any other West Indian - invigorated the Australians.

After Glenn McGrath's first spell had accounted for Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, both to catches to Adam Gilchrist, the dogged little left-handed opener Devon Smith and Lara kept Australia at bay for an hour and a half, adding 60. But McGrath and Shane Warne, their two great bowlers with 1,140 Test wickets between them, have developed a keen sense for the kill during their long careers and Ricky Ponting wasted no time in combining them once Lara had been seen off.

The West Indies captain, Shivnarine Chanderpaul - to Nathan Bracken's breathtaking catch at mid-on off a Warne long-hop - and Marlon Samuels and Smith, both to McGrath, followed in the 18 overs after Lara's departure for 40 runs and West Indies gladly accepted the offer of bad light.

Smith overcame a blow to the helmet from Lee to compile 88. It was the backbone to the West Indies' effort but he could find no one to stay with him.

In the morning, the second new ball flew everywhere as the four West Indies fast bowlers failed to find their radar and Warne, Lee and Bracken attacked.

One blow by Lee sent the ball towards the top tier of the stadium, finding its final resting place alongside the practice nets on the outside.