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Australia thrash hosts West Indies by 103 runs

West Indies, chasing 323 to win, are beaten for the first time in the tournament after being bowled out for 219 with more than four overs to spare.

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2007 23:40 IST

Glenn McGrath was on the verge of making more cricket history as world champions Australia got their Super Eight campaign off to a winning start with a 103-run defeat of World Cup hosts West Indies at St John's on Wednesday.

McGrath was left one wicket shy of Pakistan great Wasim's Akram's World Cup record of 55 - a mark that may go on Saturday when Australia face Bangladesh - after taking three for 31.

West Indies, chasing 323 to win, were bowled out for 219 with more than four overs to spare.

Only captain and star batsman Brian Lara's 77 kept alive hopes of an upset win although wicket-keeper Dinesh Ramdin weighed in with a gutsy 52.

Lara was one of a trio of batsmen who fell to spinner Brad Hogg (three for 56).

West Indies, beaten for the first time at this tournament, now have less than 24 hours before playing New Zealand on Thursday after rain forced this match into a reserve day before their innings could start.

The hosts, who saw Matthew Hayden score an Australian World Cup record 158 in a total of 322 for six, collapsed to 20 for three inside 10 overs.

Shaun Tait, whose first over featured three wides, started the slump when he was adjudged to have had the experienced Shivnarine Chanderpaul lbw for five.

First change McGrath made it 16 for two when, with his second ball, Chris Gayle, who made two off 23 balls, top-edged a pull to Shane Watson at mid-on.

The collapse continued when Marlon Samuels (four), also trying to hit McGrath of his renowned accurate leength, skied a wild slog high in the air and Andrew Symonds, one of Australia's best fielders, made no mistake with the catch at cover.

The 37-year-old Lara, who so often has had to carry West Indies' batting, square drove McGrath for four to the delight of home fans in a meagre crowd and thrillingly pulled fast bowler Tait for another boundary.

At the 25-over half-way mark, West Indies still had a mountain to climb at 90 for three.

And that became 91 for four when, in left-arm wrist spinner Hogg's second over, Ramnaresh Sarwan exited for 29 to end a stand worth 71 when a pull off a full toss was caught by Australia captain Ricky Ponting at close mid-on.

McGrath then moved to within one of Akram's record when Dwayne Bravo (nine) drove to Ponting at cover, West Indies 107 for five in the 29th over.

Lara pressed on to a 62-ball fifty with seven fours before lofting Hogg for six over long-off.

However, Hogg had Lara lbw on the full as he tried to run the ball down to third man.

It was not long before the same bowler turned 156 for six into 172 for seven with a plumb lbw against Dwayne Smith (nine).

Australia, chasing a hat-trick of World Cup triumphs after lifting the trophy in 1999 and 2003, were now well on their way to making it four wins out of four in this edition.

But there was still time for Ramdin, who played several fine strokes, to complete a gutsy 41-ball fifty with six fours before he was caught by opposing wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist off left-arm quick Nathan Bracken.

On Tuesday, the first major match staged at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium had been marked by Hayden's one-day master-class.

His was the highest score by an Australian at the World Cup, surpassing the 143 not out made by Symonds four years ago against Pakistan in Johannesburg.

Hayden's innings followed the 35-year-old left-handed opener's 101 in the 83-run win against South Africa on Saturday.

All the hosts' bowlers suffered, Jerome Taylor the most expensive with his 10 wicketless costing 67 runs.

Hayden's innings ended when he chipped medium-pacer Bravo to Samuels at long-off having faced 143 balls with four sixes and 14 fours.

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