| Mervyn Dillon (left) and Ramnaresh Sarwan celebrate the dismissal of Brett Lee in Port-of-Spain Sunday. (AP)
Port-of-Spain: Brian Lara led the West Indies to an emphatic 39-run victory that ended Australia’s record 21-match consecutive one-day International winning run at Queen’s Park Oval here.
The West Indies scored 290 for five after winning the toss Sunday and restricted the World Cup champions to 251 for nine for an overdue victory in the fifth one-day International.
The triumph, greeted by joyous scenes from Lara’s home town crowd, also snapped a losing 11-game sequence against Australia stretching back to their last win by eight wickets in Bridgetown four years ago.
The Australians, whose last ODI loss was to Sri Lanka in Sydney on January 9, had dominated the West Indies in the four previous games to clinch the one-day series after capturing the Test series 3-1.
But it was the West Indies’ day Sunday with Lara claiming Man of the Match honours with his 80 off 101 balls studded with 11 fours and a six.
Just when Lara looked poised to reach his 17th ODI century, he was caught behind by Adam Gilchrist off Andy Bichel, the seventh time he had fallen to Bichel in the Caribbean Test and ODI series.
“It was a great team performance, we got a good total, myself and Wavell (Hinds) batted very well and set up the game for Sarwan and Samuels and we bowled really tight, all credit must go to the team,” said Lara.
“We met and exceeded all our targets today.... to beat such a great team is very very special,” Lara added. “What they have achieved is historic. All cricket aficionados will remember that for a very long time.”
The Windies lost Chris Gayle for five in the second over but there was to be no further brittleness inside the opening 15 overs as was the case in the other ODI contests.
Lara, who showed his intention when he came into bat at number three, combined with opener Hinds to put on a 178-run partnership off 190 balls for the second wicket to have his team in command by Hinds’ dismissal for 79 in the 35th over.
It was the Windies’ second-highest one-day partnership against Australia, only behind 205 set by Desmond Haynes and Viv Richards at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1979-80.
“Number three is the right position to bat for me, you have a lot more overs and I’m accustomed to batting through the innings and today it showed that, so hopefully I can continue batting there in this series and against Sri Lanka,” Lara said.
Ponting said the winning sequence had to end sometime and he praised the West Indies’ performance.
“Full credit to the West Indies today, they played really well, they batted well and then took three early wickets with the new ball where probably the game changed,” Ponting said.
“I was a bit disappointed to see (the winning run) end, but the more I think about the more unbelievable I think it is,” Ponting said.
“I’m really proud and happy with what the players have done and how they have gone about it. I’d like to think that it is a record that will stand for a very long time.”
Hinds began slowly but finished with a flourish of seven fours and a straight-hit six off young spinner Nathan Hauritz.
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels continued to push along the West Indian runs with a stand of 71 off 73 balls for the fourth wicket before both fell in Brett Lee’s ninth over and 47th of the innings.
Sarwan offered a thin edge to Gilchrist for 32 off 37 balls and Samuels went two balls later, deceived by an inswinging yorker which struck his back pad in front of the wicket for 42 off 38 balls.
Ricardo Powell added some late bucaneering strokemaking when he came in with 19 balls left and struck 20 off 13 balls with wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs not out seven.
Lee finished Australia’s best bowler with three for 56 off 10 overs with two maidens and Bichel claimed two for 67 off 10 overs.
The Australians were up against a daunting task of scoring 291 runs for victory at 5.82 runs per over, but were soon in trouble with the dangerous Gilchrist out for 11 in the fifth over.
He fell to a Lara trap when he hooked straight to Hinds on the fence off Corey Collymore.
Collymore removed Jimmy Maher, playing for the rested Matthew Hayden, for 21 to a brilliant diving two-handed catch by youngster Ryan Hurley, who injured his left shoulder in the process as he hit the hard surface.
Skipper Ponting proved the crucial wicket when he was caught by Hinds off Merv Dillon for 10 to leave Australia struggling at 57 for three in the 14th over.
Andrew Symonds and youngster Michael Clarke joined in a 92-run partnership for the fourth wicket, before Clarke was well caught overhead by Lara off Dillon for 39 off 53 balls.
Victory was assured when Symonds, who cracked 77 off 85 balls, was bowled by spinner Marlon Samuels attempting a late cut off his stumps to have Australia 182 for five in the 38th over and still 109 runs from the target. It was just a matter of time as Ian Harvey (2) and Andy Bichel (7) were bowled going for big swings and Brett Lee skied to Gayle to give Sarwan his first ODI wicket. (Agencies)