Warne destroys West Indies

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Cricket

Australia 331 & 312-4 dec West Indies 304 & 215 Australia win by 124 runs

For an hour and 35 minutes yesterday morning a little left-handed batsman with an exquisite sense of timing and his elegant partner responded to an early crisis with the flair that has earned West Indian cricket its elevated status in these parts.

But on either side of a thrilling partnership of 117 between Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the left-hander playing the role Brian Lara might have done, and Carl Hooper that briefly, if unrealistically, sparked the hope of an unlikely victory in the second Test there were collapses that were also typically West Indian.

Three wickets fell for two runs in the first 20 minutes, including Lara's, and, after Shane Warne produced one of his magic deliveries two balls before lunch to dismiss Chanderpaul for 71, the last seven West Indies wickets tumbled for 63 and Australia were home 20 minutes before tea.

They have been more disciplined, considerably sharper in the field and palpably more confident than the West Indies and their margin of victory, 124 runs, was far wider than it appeared. It was just one run less than that of the first Test in Brisbane a week earlier and, as then, followed a second innings declaration by Australia's daring captain, Mark Taylor.

It was the first time the West Indies had been beaten in two successive Tests since 1976, also in Australia, and represented a shift in the psychological balance between the teams. The aura of invincibility, first breached with Australia's 2-1 triumph in the Caribbean in 1995, has been completely shattered.

"Prior to 1995 they always felt we were going to crack at some stage, but I think that vibe has probably gone," Taylor said afterwards. "We know that if we play well and put them under pressure, we can make them crack." Taylor had brashly challenged the West Indies to total 340 to win and level the series. When he got rid of the overnight openers, Sherwin Campbell and Robert Samuels, and Lara feathered an attempted hook off the fast bowler Glenn McGrath, so low to the wicketkeeper Ian Healy that the standing umpire David Shepherd needed confirmation that it was clean from his square leg colleague, Daryl Hair, Australia were already counting their chickens.

Chanderpaul and Hooper made them quickly reassess the situation. Chanderpaul's counter-attack was uncharacteristic as he tends to be more an accumulator than an aggressor. Let off on a return chance by McGrath when six he proceeded to pepper the boundaries with strokes in every direction. Warne was especially singled out for attention and Taylor was forced to withdraw him after nine overs cost 52.

When he returned, Chanderpaul took two more of his 10 boundaries from full tosses but, two balls before the first interval, could do nothing to keep a fizzing leg-break that spun back a yard and bowled him off his pad. His 71 required only 68 balls. "That ball was the turning point in the day's play," Taylor said. "Chanderpaul played brilliantly, but you've got to back your bowlers and a bloke like Shane Warne can always bowl the sort of ball that turns a game."

Once play resumed there was nothing to stop Australia's advance. Hooper, breezing along in Chanderpaul's slipstream before the interval, was becalmed to the extent that he could only add 10 in an hour before Michael Bevan, Warne's left-arm equivalent, deceived him with a bouncing googly that Taylor caught at the second attempt after flicking it up with deft footwork. The lower order had no answer to the baffling spin of Warne and Bevan and the Australians were celebrating well before the tea break.

Fifth day; Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 331 (G S Blewett 69; C A Walsh 5-98).

WEST INDIES - First Innings 304 (S L Campbell 77; G D McGrath 4-82).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings 312 for 4 dec (M T G Elliott 78 ret hurt, M E Waugh 67, M G Bevan 52).

WEST INDIES - Second Innings

(Overnight: 27 for 0)

S L Campbell lbw b McGrath 15

R G Samuels b Warne 16

B C Lara c Healy b McGrath 1

C L Hooper c Taylor b Bevan 57

S Chanderpaul b Warne 71

J C Adams c Blewett b McGrath 5

C O Browne not out 25

I R Bishop run out 0

C E L Ambrose b Bevan 0

K C G Benjamin c Taylor b Warne 4

*C A Walsh c McGrath b Warne 18

Extras (lb2 nb1) 3

Total (69.4 overs) 215

Fall: 1-33 2-33 3-35 4-152 5-157 6-176 7-176 8-176 9-183.

Bowling: McGrath 17-7-36-3; Waugh 4-0-15-0; Gillespie 7-2-27-0; Warne 27.4-6-95-4; Bevan 14-2-40-2.

Umpires: D Shepherd (Eng) and D Hair (Aus).

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