West Indies take advantage of rain

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Australia 216 and 300-7 dec

West Indies 260 and 80-2

Match drawn

The unseasonal weather that had already taken almost a full day out of the match intervened again overnight and transformed what promised to be an intriguing final day into no more than a search for psychological points. As a result, the match ended in an anti-climactic draw, leaving Australia 1-0 ahead in the four-Test series, with two to play.

When the tropical downpour halted play at tea on Wednesday Australia, at 273 for 7, led by 229. The final day would have resumed with all four results a possibility. Instead there was more torrential rain during the night and, even though the weather turned more typically Caribbean, the ground was so saturated and the covers so inadequate that several parts of the outfield were almost quagmires.

It required several hours of baking sunshine and the artificial assistance of a helicopter hovering over the offending spots for the umpires, Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd, to be sufficiently satisfied to order play half an hour after the scheduled lunch interval.

At that point at least 49 overs remained but that was further reduced by two as no one had remembered to instruct a groundstaff preoccupied with their mopping-up operations to roll the pitch for the mandatory seven minutes prior to the start.

Had Australia been one down instead of one up in the series, Mark Taylor might have declared immediately, offering the West Indies a challenge and his key leg spinner, ShaneWarne, adequate time to utilise a worn if not difficult last-day pitch. Predictably he chose to bat on for half an hour in which Steve Waugh and Paul Reiffel added 27 from 7.3 overs before leaving the West Indies a target of 257, off 36 overs.

It was not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that Warne's vicious spin could earn Australia a sensational victory but the more realistic Australian expectations would have been to have caused the West Indies some embarrassment with five or six wickets before the end.

Only five overs were bowled before Taylor summoned Warne, before which he already had the bonus of Richie Richardson's wicket. Offering a nondescript back foot stroke to Reiffel's inswinger, the West Indies captain was bowled for two and at tea they were 13 for 1 and Australia had another 30 overs at least in bright clear sunshine to pose problems.

They did not. The young opener Stuart Williams reached an unflustered, unbeaten 31 and Brendon Julian had the satisfaction of clean-bowling Brian Lara for 44 to a casual stroke. The players were then simply waiting for the appointed time when they could call the match off, with neither team having gained a decisive advantage at any stage.

(Final day: West Indies won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 216 (C A Walsh 5-64).

WEST INDIES First Innings 260 (B C Lara 88).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings

(Overnight: 273 for 7)

S R Waugh not out 65

P R Reiffel not out 13

Extras (b1 lb9 nb10) 20

Total (for 7 dec) 300

Bowling: Ambrose 19-3-42-0; Walsh 35-7-87-3; W Benjamin 24-2-72-2; K Benjamin 15-1-51-0; Arthurton 1-0-1-0; Hooper 9-3-16-1; Adams 4-0-16-0.

WEST INDIES - Second Innings

S C Williams not out 31

R B Richardson b Reiffel 2

B C Lara b Julian 43

J C Adams not out 3

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (for 2) 80

Fall: 1-11 2-69.

Bowling: Reiffel 6-2-12-1; Julian 5-2-15-1; Warne 7-0-18-0; McGrath 6- 2-20-0; M E Waugh 6-2-15-0.

Umpires: S Bucknor and D Shepherd.