|Ground:||Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne|
|Scorecard:||Australia v West Indies|
|Player:||DR Martyn, RT Ponting, B Lee, BC Lara|
|Event:||VB Series 2004/05|
DateLine: 14th January 2005
The West Indies wilted in the face of intense pressure from world champions Australia, collapsing 116 runs short of victory in their opening Tri-series one-day cricket international here.
After being dismissed off just 46.2 overs, the tourists mustered a paltry 185 runs in reply to Australia's 301 for 4 on a batting-friendly Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket which had offered them far more.
Friday's rusty performance highlighted the West Indies' lack of serious match practice in the lead-up to the tournament, with Australia resting both opening batsman Matthew Hayden and their top pace bowler Glenn McGrath for the clash.
Captain Brian Lara with 56 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul with 46 offered some resistance but when Lara was caught by Andrew Symonds off spinner Brad Hogg the visitors' innings fell apart.
Speedster Brett Lee, who failed to make the Australian Test team for the just-completed series against Pakistan, had a stunning return to international competition, ripping the heart out of the West Indian batting early on.
Lee, showing lightning pace of more than 150km/h (94 mph), claimed three of the first four wickets to fall -- opener Wavell Hinds was run out for five -- finishing with 3-36 from his allotted 10 overs.
But it was Hogg, who just over a year ago was struggling to keep his place in the Western Australian state team, who emerged the real hero of the Australian bowling, taking career-best figures for a one-day international of 5-32.
It was he who broke the West Indies' resistance after Lara and Chanderpaul had carried them from 33 for four to 131 when he had the captain caught by Symonds at extra cover.
He then caught and bowled both Chanderpaul and Samuels as the Windies collapse gathered momentum.
For Australia, three batsmen notched half-centuries with Damien Martyn on the brink of a full ton, remaining unbeaten on 95 from 93 balls.
Talented newcomer Michael Clarke, who had been suffering from a foot injury prior to the match, more than held his own in the opening slot after he asked captain Ricky Ponting to be moved up the order to replace Hayden, who was being rested.
Clarke belted 66, including eight boundaries - his fifth one-day half-century - before being bowled by Marlon Samuels while trying a late cut shot.
There had been some luck on his side as well, with 18-year-old one-day debutante Xavier Marshall dropping a difficult chance while he was on just 13 runs. The West Indies got off to a flying start when the prolific and free-flowing run-scorer Gilchrist was dismissed for a rare duck.
The wicketkeeper fell victim to a spectacular catch off the bowling of left-arm quick Ian Bradshaw as Dwayne Bravo at mid-wicket dived to his right.
But the tourists could not sustain the momentum and at times became undisciplined.
Several run-out chances were wasted and catching chances also missed while the bowlers, especially Mervyn Dillon, offered too many wayward deliveries.
For Australia, Ponting, who virtually shared the opening duties with Clarke after Gilchrist fell in just the second over, was also in fine form knocking 78 off 92 balls before being run out.
Out-of-form Darren Lehmann also showed good touch coming to the crease with four overs remaining to notch a quick 20 not out.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)
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