Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Windfall for Windies as they charge to historic win


Without fail, a record was going to be broken.

Either Australia would become the first country to sweep a series in 73 years of Caribbean test cricket on Tuesday, or the West Indies would prevail with the highest score batting last in 125 years of test history.

Needing 47 at the start of the fifth day to summit an unprecedented 418, the West Indies chased down the highest ever target by lunch to win by three wickets, setting off ecstatic West Indies teammates charging to each other, and fans cartwheeling across the Recreation Ground.

"We set a standard and we kept the standard up and we ended with a victory against Australia -- the greatest run chase in the history of the game," captain Brian Lara said.

Only twice had a team passed 400 to win a test, and the last was India with a record 406 at Port of Spain 27 years ago.

Australia looked set to take the Frank Worrell Trophy series 4-0 when Brett Lee got the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul (104), the West Indies' last recognized batsman, after he'd added only one to the overnight score.

But Vasbert Drakes, in his sixth test, and Omari Banks, in his second, patiently steered the West Indies to its astonishing win with an unbeaten eighth-wicket stand of 46. Drakes hit the winning runs with a rasping square cut to the fence off Stuart MacGill.

"The guys went out confident," Lara said. "In Vasbert Drakes, we had someone who was capable of taking us past the total and he showed exactly what he was made of today."

The 20-year-old, lanky, unflappable Banks, who scored a mature unbeaten 47, was tagged by Lara as "a breath of fresh air."

Chanderpaul, named man of the match, and vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan (105) hit centuries on Monday to power the victory bid after Lara was dismissed for 60 to make it 165 for four. The Australians became feisty, prompting their cricket board to warn them to calm down.

The West Indies beat Australia for the first time since 1999, ending a nine-test losing streak.

"I've been playing test cricket for 12 years and this is the greatest cricketing moment of my life," said Lara, who holds the world's highest test and first-class scores. "Nothing surpasses this."

Australia's Steve Waugh, who became the most successful test captain of all time during the series (36 wins in 49 tests) and takes home a 3-1 series victory, congratulated the West Indies.

"To chase 400 is a magnificent performance and I take my hat off to them," Waugh said. "But, from our point of view, an excellent series. To win three test matches on such flat wickets was a tremendous effort from all the bowlers and all the squad."

Lara was excited by the prospects of a team with an average age of 24.

"[The win] showed the character and it showed the progression of the guys, mentally and physically, and they must be commended," he said.

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